At first, Geysa Blanco thought her son was kidding.
"He said, ‘Mom, I have news for you,’ " Blanco said, recalling the telephone call from her son a few weeks ago.
"Between English and Spanish, he told me that they had chosen him to write and read a poem at the presidential inauguration,” she said.
But Richard Blanco, a child of exiles who was raised in Miami and graduated from Florida International University, was serious.
The Barack Obama inaugural committee chose the 44-year-old Cuban-American civil engineer and author to recite an original poem at Monday’s inauguration.
Richard Blanco has also been speechless. “It took me 10 minutes to remember what the word for inauguration is in Spanish," he said in a telephone interview Sunday from Washington, D.C., less than 24 hours before taking center stage.
Blanco, who now lives in Maine, will become the first Hispanic inaugural poet and the first openly gay one. He is also only the fifth and youngest poet in the exclusive club of poets.
The first was Robert Frost, who in 1961 wrote a poem for the inauguration of John F. Kennedy.