Inaugural poet Richard Blanco to publish memoir in November

Richard Blanco memoir, "For All of Us, One Today," is due out Nov. 19.
(Nikki Moustaki / Associated Press)

When Richard Blanco was handed the biggest gig of his life -- writing a poem for President Obama’s second inaugural -- he had to write quickly. In a few weeks he wrote three poems, one of which was chosen by Obama: “One Today,” Blanco called it.

Now, Blanco is involved in another literary fire drill: the fast-turnaround of his new memoir by Beacon Press.

Blanco turned over the manuscript for “For All of Us, One Today” in early August, according to a report in Publishers Weekly. The book tells the story of Blanco’s life and the story of the writing of “One Today,” the poem that Blanco read in a soft voice on a cold morning on the National Mall. Most authors would have to wait a year or longer to see the book in bookstores. But Beacon decided to slip the book into its Fall 2013 list, and will release it Nov. 19.

Interviewed by Publishers Weekly, Blanco said that writing about the experience of crafting the poems forced him to examine his life as an American, a gay man, and an immigrant. “If I can say this at 45,” he said, “it’s a coming-of-age book.”

Back in January, in an appreciation of the inaugural poem, I wrote: “In about 550 words, Richard Blanco’s inaugural poem created a metaphorical country and took it through the journey of a metaphorical day. ‘One Today’ was an intimate and sweeping celebration of our shared, single identity as a people.’”


In “One Today,” Blanco also invoked the tragedy in Newtown (“the empty desks of 20 children marked absent today, and forever”) and also his own Cuban immigrant family, describing those who go to work “… to teach geometry, or ring up groceries, as my mother did for 20 years, so I could write this poem.”

Beacon will sell “For All of Us, One Today” as a $15 paperback with French flaps, Publishers Weekly reported.

Since the inaugural, Blanco has been commissioned to write other poems, including one to benefit the foundation that aids victims of the Boston Marathon bombing.


Roxane Gay strives to diversify the literary conversation

Ruth Ozeki and Jhumpa Lahiri make the Man Booker shortlist

Shakespeare to be revised by Margaret Atwood and Howard Jacobson