Richard Blanco was the Lunder Institute’s visiting artist for spring 2018. Blanco, whose family came to United States from Cuba, writes about cultural identity and personal history. He has published three critically acclaimed volumes of poetry and composed several occasional poems, including “One Today,” which he wrote for the 2013 inauguration of President Barack Obama, and “Boston Strong,” which addressed the aftermath of the Boston Marathon bombings. He is also the author of a personal memoir of his childhood in Miami and co-creator of a blog about the Cuban diaspora.
During his affiliation with the Lunder Institute, Blanco taught a course with Colby Professor of English and Creative Writing Michael Burke called “Teach This Poem: Poetry and Art in Education.” Incorporating the pedagogical methods of John Dewey and Maxine Green, Colby students developed lesson plans for teaching literature and art that emphasize mindful observation, wonder, and discovery. The undergraduates then brought their lesson plans to Waterville elementary school students, who were inspired to write their own poems and recite them in the Colby Museum. Blanco also led several workshops for educators and members of the Waterville community. On February 27, 2018, he gave a public talk on the meaning of home, including poems from his recent book Boundaries, a collaborative project with landscape photographer Jacob Bond Hessler. Blanco’s poems and Hessler’s photographs together investigate the boundaries of race, gender, class, and ethnicity and challenge the dividing lines—both historical and current—that shadow America.
Images: Season landing image courtesy of Beacon Press; top image courtesy richard-blanco.com; middle image credit Sam Farzanah via Wikimedia Commons. Gallery images by Micaela Bedell courtesy of Colby College.