Celebrating Hispanic Heritage Month with Richard Blanco from Poetry In America

Loading Events

Thursday, October 6 | 8pm ET | 5pm PT


PBS Books is pleased to host a conversation with award-winning poet Richard Blanco, who a featured guest of PBS broadcast-series Poetry In America, with Poetry In America’s Founder, Director, and Host Elisa New. As we celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month, join us to learn about Richard Blanco, his work, and his creative process.



Selected by President Obama as the fifth inaugural poet in U.S. history, Richard Blanco is the first Latino, immigrant, and gay person to serve in such a role. Born in Madrid to Cuban exile parents and raised in Miami, the negotiation of cultural identity characterizes his four collections of poetry: How To Love a CountryCity of a Hundred Fires, which received the Agnes Starrett Poetry Prize from the University of Pittsburgh Press; Directions to The Beach of the Dead, recipient of the Beyond Margins Award from the PEN American Center; and Looking for The Gulf Motel, recipient of the Paterson Poetry Prize and the Thom Gunn Award. He has also authored the memoirs For All of Us, One Today: An Inaugural Poet’s Journey and The Prince of Los Cocuyos: A Miami Childhood, winner of a Lambda Literary Award. His inaugural poem “One Today” was published as a children’s book, in collaboration with renowned illustrator Dav Pilkey. Boundaries, a collaboration with photographer Jacob Hessler, challenges the physical and psychological dividing lines that shadow the United States. And his latest book of poems, How to Love a Country, both interrogates the American narrative, past and present, and celebrates the still unkept promise of its ideals. Blanco has written occasional poems for the re-opening of the U.S. Embassy in Cuba, Freedom to Marry, the Tech Awards of Silicon Valley, and the Boston Strong benefit concert following the Boston Marathon bombings. He is a Woodrow Wilson Fellow and has received numerous honorary doctorates. He has taught at Georgetown University, American University, and Wesleyan University. He serves as the first Education Ambassador for The Academy of American Poets.



Elisa New is the Director and Host of Poetry in America, director of Verse Video Education, and Powell M. Cabot Professor of American Literature at Harvard University. New created Poetry in America, a PBS series, to bring poetry into living rooms and onto screens of all kinds. The show can be seen on public television and streaming platforms, in schools and libraries, and on airlines. Guests include Joe Biden, Herbie Hancock, Gloria Estefan, Shaquille O’Neal, Elena Kagan, Nas, John McCain, Sonia Sanchez, Tony Kushner, Bill Clinton, Julia Alvarez, Bono, Cynthia Nixon, John Kerry, LisaGay Hamilton, Caroline Kennedy, Katie Couric, Al Gore, and Bill T. Jones. Along with the series, New produces educational materials on American poetry for all ages—from middle- and high-school students, to K-12 teachers, to lifelong learners—distributed by Harvard University, Amplify Education, and Arizona State University.

New is the author of The Regenerate Lyric: Theology and Innovation in American Poetry (Cambridge University Press, 1992); The Line’s Eye: Poetic Experience, American Sight (Harvard University Press, 1999); Jacob’s Cane: A Jewish Family’s Journey from the Four Lands of Lithuania to the Ports of London and Baltimore: A Memoir in Five Generations (Basic Books, 2009); and New England Beyond Criticism: In Defense of America’s First Literature, A Wiley Blackwell Manifesto (Wiley Blackwell 2014).




Poetry in America, created and directed by Harvard professor Elisa New, is a public television series and multi-platform educational initiative that brings poetry into classrooms and living rooms around the world. In partnership with Harvard University, Poetry in America offers free online courses for global learners as well as for-credit and professional development courses for undergraduates, graduate students, highly motivated high-school students, and educational practitioners. Its public television series Poetry in America (presented by WGBH Boston and distributed by American Public Television) first aired nationwide in April 2018. Poetry in America returned for a second season in April 2020, and is airing on public television stations in most major markets across the US. Poetry in America is filmed on location in a rich documentary style. From our base in Cambridge, we follow Allen Ginsberg to San Francisco, Gwendolyn Brooks to the South Side of Chicago, and Emily Dickinson to Amherst. Along the way, scientists and Supreme Court justices, playwrights and journalists, athletes and songwriters, poets and painters, and classroom teachers and their students join us to reflect on essential works of the American literary imagination.


Go to Top