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Richard Blanco on BPR | June 11, 2018

Poet Richard Blanco Examines Fatherhood, Masculinity, And Male Role Models

Cuba Poets Homecoming
Cuban-American poet Richard Blanco waits for his turn at a grocery store near his grandparents home in the village of Espartaco near Cienfuegos, Cuba, Wednesday, June 17, 2015. The United States' first Latino inaugural poet returns to Cuba for the first time since reading his stirring ode to American diversity at President Barack Obama's 2012 swearing-in. Richard Blanco's first visit in nearly a decade serves as a measure of the island's dramatic economic reforms, and the changed mood since Obama declared detente with Cuba. (AP Photo/Desmond Boylan)
Desmond Boylan/AP
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Richard Blanco on BPR | June 11, 2018

What makes a good male role model?

Ahead of Father's Day, poet Richard Blanco shared poems that explore possible answers to this question, touching on themes of fatherhood, masculinity, and the relationships between generations. Blanco is the nation's fifth inaugural poet and the author, most recently, of the book "Boundaries."

Blanco said that for him, poetry was a way to imagine conversations with his father that he never got to have.

"He died when I was 22," Blanco said. "I never really got to have an adult relationship with him, so a lot of the poetry is to have some kind of connection with him, with the tiniest little memories I remember of him — sort of having a conversation with my father across time and space, in many ways."

Poetry was also a way for Blanco to imagine his father's inner life. His father, a Cuban immigrant, was an emotionally reserved man throughout Blanco's childhood.

"My father was a very distant man, I guess partly that ... was a characteristic of that generation, and also I think because he was in exile, and I think he lost a lot of his dreams and was spent a little bit by his exile experience," Blanco said.

Follow along with the poems discussed in this interview, in order:

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