Blanco, Richard. “Looking for The Gulf Motel” (Pitt Poetry Series), University of Pittsburgh Press, 2012.
Richard Blanco is a poet who writes about family has shaped him and continues to do so. His symphonies of words are presented here in three movements—1) his exiled Cuban family and questions of cultural identity and displacement and the search for home, 2) gender and father/son relationship and cultural/sexual identity as a gay Cuban living in Maine, 3) his mother as an exile, his father’s and other relatives’ death and his place in the world. The overall theme is the search for the elusive beauty in country, family and love.
We soon realize that Blanco’s search is our search as well—he pulls us into his poems and as he searches for his home, we also search for ours. That love and desire for what his no longer here affects the reader as the poet tells us about it. His memories soon become our memories and we become one with him. Blanco is not subtle as his directness reminds us of each and every search that we have been a part of.
There were moments that I stopped to listen to the music that I felt should accompany the poems and such is the lyrical quality of the work. As James Joyce says in his short story “Eveline” from “The Dubliners”, “Everything changes”—lovers, language, etc. and loss is its own kind of exile. Therefore searching for what no longer is heals the soul and love is what matters.