Evening with Richard Blanco

Richard Blanco Nourishes Minds And Conquers Hearts And In Brookline
By Lois Statlender and Bambi Good
Photo By Jean Stringham & George Abbott White

Richard Blanco mesmerized his audience as he shared slides, poems, ideas, and humor with the almost 200 people gathered at First Parish in Brookline on February 28.

Because Nicaragua is the country of Brookline’s Sister City, our guest poet opened the evening with slides from his visit to the International Poetry Festival held in Nicaragua.  He followed the slides of this enormous week-long outdoor festival with a slide depicting the orderly and formal seating in Washington, D.C., where Blanco read his famous poem, “One Today,” on the occasion of Obama’s second Inauguration.  He commented that poetry is recited out loud much more frequently in Latin American countries than in this country. 

Richard Blanco touched on many of the varied themes that he explores in his newest book, How to Love a Country whose poems embrace topics including immigration, gun violence, racism, and LGBTQ issues.  From this collection he read “Complaint of the Rio Grande,” written in first person by the river which says “I wasn’t meant to drown children, hear mothers’ cries, never meant to be your geography…”  Blanco questions the boundaries that divide people such as hate and prejudice, as well as physical boundaries.

The audience enthusiastically clapped after the first poem was read, and Richard Blanco explained that the audience usually does not clap after readings at poetry events but told us with his ever present sense of humor that we did not have to stop. And we didn’t.  There was, however, dead silence after he read a poem on the last recorded lynching in the United States, titled “Easy Lunching on Herndon Avenue,” from his book Boundaries.The evening ended on a more upbeat note, however, as the audience gave Richard Blanco a standing ovation. 

This event was a fundraiser for The Brookline-Quezalguaque Sister City Project, and generously hosted by the Immigration Justice Committee of First Parish. The funds raised will go directly to continue supporting the many ongoing projects in Quezalguaque. The Brookline-Quezalguaque Sister City Project has been in existence for more than 30 years.  If you would like more information about Brookline’s Sister City and its projects, please visit our website at www.brooklinesistercity.org, or write to us at: brooklinesistercity@gmail.com.  We welcome your questions and we welcome new members!

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