Poet Richard Blanco will speak about his experiences as the son of Cuban parents living in exile during a World Refugee Day celebration 4 p.m. Friday at Congress Square Plaza in Portland.
World Refugee Day honors more than 15 million people displaced by war and persecution.
Blanco, who lives in Bethel, writes about immigration and community in his poetry. He read at President Obama’s second inauguration in 2013. He was the youngest writer selected as an inaugural poet, and also the first immigrant and Latino.
After the event at Congress Square, the Salt Institute for Documentary Studies, 561 Congress St., will host a reception that will spotlight the exhibition “In the Shadows: Urban Refugee Children in Africa” by Salt alum and National Geographic photographer Amy Toensing.
She will discuss her work, and a refugee from The Telling Room will read a short story. The reception begins at 6 p.m.
Since 2000, Maine has resettled 2,282 refugees from 24 countries. They come from war-ravaged countries to live more safely. Recent refugees in Maine are from Afghanistan, Burma, Iraq, Somalia and Sudan.
Mayor Michael Brennan also will speak at Friday’s event, along with Eklas Ahmed, the state representative to the U.S. National Refugee Congress.
Blanco was raised in Florida and moved to Maine several years ago.
Both events are free and open to the public.