ashamed and empty and hollow as trees.
"America" speaks also to the Blanco family's ambivalence about its newfound American identity. When 7-year-old Richard tells his grandmother about Thanksgiving and the Pilgrims, she agrees to prepare a turkey, but does so "as if committing an act of treason."
Growing up gay and Cuban American was an even bigger challenge. In the poem "Queer Theory, According to My Grandmother," Blanco writes of the many admonitions he received growing up.
"For God's sake, never pee sitting down…./I've seen you," his grandmother says. "Don't stare at The Six-Million-Dollar Man./I've seen you." And finally: "Never dance alone in your room."
Blanco never did stop dancing.
"At a poetry reading a woman once asked me to share something about myself that no one would know directly from reading my bio or my work," he says on his website. "Somewhat embarrassed, I told the audience about my poetry dance — a little Michael Jackson-inspired shtick I do around the house in my pajamas when I am high from a good-poem day."
Muske-Dukes called Blanco an "energetic" and "inventive" poet.
"We're seeing the ascendancy of women, Latinos and gay culture," Muske-Dukes said. "Richard is a voice from this great, moving tapestry that is the poetry world."
The presence of a gay Latino man at the U.S. Capitol on Inauguration Day, she said, is one more reminder of the seemingly prescient vision of diverse America the poet Walt Whitman put forward a century ago.
"I am large," Whitman wrote in "Leaves of Grass." "I contain multitudes."