01/17/2013 07:05 pm ET Updated Mar 19, 2013

Naming Richard Blanco the Inaugural Poet Is Beautiful

Citizens of Miami should be in-the-street banging pots and pans. We should be driving down Biscayne beeping car horns, celebrating the way we know how, except by shooting guns in the air; please, Miami -- no guns in the air because: President Obama chose Richard Blanco to be the inaugural poet.

Huh? Who? What? Where?

Richard Blanco -- he's a son of Miami: high school at Columbus, bachelor's and master's from FIU, the first Cuban-American and also the first gay man to be chosen for such an honor. In fact, Blanco is only the fifth poet EVER to take part in a president's inaugural ceremony. The first was Robert Frost (Kennedy, 1961), then Maya Angelou (Clinton, 1993), Miller Williams (Clinton, 1997), Elizabeth Alexander (Obama, 2009) and now Mr. Blanco. What an incredible honor to compose an original poem for the whole world to hear -- wow -- think about that for a sec, and he hails from Miami.

Miami, a city of vice.

Of South Beach nip-and-tuck elites, Ed Hardy shirts and Real Housewives, a city of douche and swag and hate, straddled with a reputation from the '80s, branded by cocaine cowboys and corrupt politicians. Miami, never known for its brains, more lampooned for its face-eating zombies.

Don't Hate, Relate

Although Mr. Blanco lives in Maine now, he has toiled in the relatively unknown world of poetry in Miami for years. Poets rarely receive recognition outside of their own circle; they don't make money. Everyone wants recognition for their work, but for the most part, most artists (especially poets and writers) are faced with a life of constant rejection, fierce competition and criticism, and a business in direct conflict with the craft. Most whom aspire, quit. It would seem fitting, especially for us in Miami, to hate Obama for choosing Richard Blanco. That's what we do in Miami, isn't it, hate? It would be easy to politicize this honor with a petty dismissal such as: Obama chose Blanco because he's Latin and gay; Obama is simply patronizing his base, throwing two of them one bone.


Maybe one can get away with it in the old Miami. Not in the new one. The new Miami is where we take each other seriously; where we come together committed to the cultural and intellectual renaissance of our city; where we re-define ourselves for ourselves and the rest of the country. Mr. Blanco reading a poem on Monday at the presidential inauguration is a day of pride and joy for all those in the letters, Cuban-Americans, the LGBT community and every one of us in the 305 -- moreover, it represents hope and inspiration a writer or artist or city should feel when they know someone who is elevated to such an honorable, esteemed position, almost overnight.