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Gay Cuban poet to reopen US embassy in Cuba

Gareth Williams August 14, 2015

Poet Richard Blanco has been commissioned to compose and perform a poem at the reopening of the US embassy in Havana, Cuba.

Richard Blanco is a gay poet of duel American-Cuban nationality and will be performing the poem later today called, “Matters of The Sea” or “Cosas Del Mar” in Spanish.

In an interview with NPR in Miami, the Blanco told them the meaning behind the name: “the 90 miles between these two countries that might as well be 9,000 miles.

“So I started thinking about that and how to make that something not about separation, but about unification.” he continued, “And so it’s the sea that separates us, but it’s also the sea that unites us.”

The American flag hasn’t flown over the embassy in over 50 years, since the Cold War. The ceremony – which will be officiated by US Secretary of State, John Kerry – shows a major shift in political relations.

The poet, who previously released a beautiful tribute to same-sex marriage, was also commissioned to perform at Barack Obama’s inauguration ceremony in  2013.

Speaking to US network MSNBC, Blanco said: ““It’s one of the most sort of emotional and complex poems I’ve ever had to write. It seems like so much of what all my writing has been about leading up to this very moment, the negotiation of cultural identities.

“This just seems so surreal still…This is really in some sense just the beginning, the dawn of new things to come…I’ve always felt like my heart has been split between two countries, two heritages, two loyalties.” He continued.

In further reference to his personal heritage, the poet added: “The poem is in a way reconciling that part of me, personally. What I hope the poem does as well is bring us to another place of reconciliation, an emotional place of reconciliation…I see this as a moment of emotional truce.”

Posting on Facebook, Blanco wrote: “So incredibly emotional for me—not only to witness this historic moment, but also to be asked to be part of it. I’m humbled, honored, and elated.”

Previously, Blanco has spoken about the LGBT community in Cuba: “the LGBT community was something that I actually had very misunderstood for most of my trips. I just didn’t think there was even any kind of LGBT community to be had.”

Going further into the topic led to that of Latin American countries in general: “However, in general, Latin American countries’ sense of homosexuality is very different than the United States or – you know, the sense of homophobia is not a religious-based sort of homophobia but one about machismo…and appearance.”

More: Americas, Cold War, cosas Del Mar, Cuba, Cuba, John Kerry, Matters of the Sea, poem, poet, poetry, Richard Blanco, US, us embassy

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