Blanco, Richard. “The Prince of los Cocuyos: A Miami Childhood”, Ecco, 2014.
Richard Blanco is the first Latino and openly gay inaugural poet whose live certainly changed when President Obama chose him to write the poem for his inauguration. Now we all want to know about Blanco and here he tells us of his coming-of-age as the child of Cuban immigrants and his attempts to understand his place in America while grappling with his burgeoning artistic and sexual identities. This is a poignant, funny and inspiring book and Blanco certainly is proof of how a life can be changed in a split second.
Blanco’s childhood and adolescence were experienced between two imaginary worlds: his parents’ nostalgic world of 1950s Cuba and his imagined America, the country he saw on television as he watched reruns of “The Brady Bunch” and “Leave it to Beaver”. He dreamt of an exotic life in America and in fact he would have been satisfied just to see it. He began to question his own cultural identity and he chose to do so in words—he saw himself as a writer and as an artist and this helped him accept himself as a gay man.
His memoir here traces his life in America and he writes of those who influenced him. His writing is sensitive and contemplative as well as poignant and funny. He paints pictures with words and his narrative is colorful. We actually sense the colors, the sounds and the textures of the Miami where he grew up and he shares with us the importance of being an American (for many of us, this is a given but for those who come here it is a different situation altogether). Blanco’s story is one of becoming and not just being. We see how he has been shaped by his experiences, his memories and his stories and we learn of the love, the yearning and the tenderness that defines him and his life.