January 29, 2013

Maine poet, inaugural star, to read in Portland

By Bob Keyes bkeyes@pressherald.com
Staff Writer

(Continued from page 1)

click image to enlarge

President Barack Obama, left, shakes hands with poet Richard Blanco during the ceremonial swearing-in at the U.S. Capitol during the 57th Presidential Inauguration in Washington on Jan. 21, 2013.

AP

"I am missing walking the dog and doing my usual errands. But things will settle into place," he said.

Blanco doesn't plan any other readings in Maine before the event in Portland, although he said Bethel is planning a reception in his honor.

The poet said the inauguration appeared much different on TV than in person.

"You're so high up and so far away from the crowd, a reading with 10 people sitting in front of you with eye contact can be more nerve-wracking," he said with a laugh. "So it's kind of misleading in the sense that you saw a lot more people on TV than I did. On the platform, it feels quite intimate."

As he read for America, Blanco said, he imagined reading his poem to a snowman that his nephews made in Bethel. Before leaving for Washington, D.C., he had rehearsed outdoors with an audience of the solitary snowman, to get the experience of reading in the chill of the open air.

Blanco has no idea what Obama said to him after he finished reading "One Today."

"It was some kind of congratulations and pleasantries," he said, "but I was so nervous, I really don't know what he said."

Hutchins, with Creative Portland Corp., said Blanco represents many artists in Maine.

"They live in Maine, they have their homes in Maine, but they travel all over the world with their creative talent. Richard Blanco is the epitome of creativity in Maine," she said.

He also represents one of Maine's oldest artistic traditions. Portland is home of one of the world's greatest poets, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, and it's a time-honored tradition in town for poets and other literary figures to fill a public venue for readings, she noted.

"To have this event here, and with free admission, is perfect -- just perfect," Hutchins said.

Staff Writer Bob Keyes can be contacted at 791-6457 or:

bkeyes@pressherald.com

Twitter: pphkeyes

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