Richard Blanco is seen at the Bangor Arts Exchange in 2019. Credit: Gabor Degre / BDN

Richard Blanco, a Maine native who currently lives in Bethel, will receive the National Humanities Medal from President Joe Biden at a Tuesday ceremony.

Blanco, who delivered his poem “One Today” at President Barack Obama’s second inauguration, is one of 12 people from across the nation chosen to receive the award, the Portland Press Herald reported.

The poet received an honorary degree from Colby College in 2014, and delivered a poem at the Waterville college’s 2021 graduation ceremony. 

Blanco released his fourth volume of poetry, titled “How to Love a Country,” in which he explores immigration, racism, gun violence and LGBTQ issues in early 2021. In many of his poems, Blanco, a son of Cuban immigrants, speaks about the challenges of immigrating to a new place and engaging with a new culture.

He also co-wrote a play with Vanessa Garcia, also a Cuban American, titled “Sweet Goats and Blueberry Senoritas,” that premiered in Portland on Jan. 25.

The National Humanities Medal is awarded to Americans whose work has deepened the nation’s understanding of the humanities and broadened Americans’ engagement with history, literature, languages, philosophy and other humanities, according to the National Endowment for the Humanities website.

Avatar photo

Leela Stockley

Leela Stockley is an alumna of the University of Maine. She was raised in northern Maine, and loves her cat Wesley, her puppy Percy and staying active in the Maine outdoors.