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Former Inaugural Poet from South Florida Reflects on Amanda Gorman's Words

NBC Universal, Inc.

On Inauguration Day, 22-year-old Amanda Gorman made history as the youngest inaugural poet, joining a longstanding tradition. NBC 6 anchor Sheli Muñiz spoke to Richard Blanco, the FIU grad who was selected to be the inaugural poet for former President Barack Obama in 2013, about his reflections on passing the torch.

"It's one of the most beautiful memories I have, and one of the most terrifying memories at the same time," Blanco said. "It was, of course, scary to read a poem in front of millions of people, but it was such a beautiful experience too, as we saw today at that embracing, that communication, and that tradition to be all one. It's really a powerful, powerful feeling (that I got to relive today)."

Below is Blanco's full interview with Muñiz, edited lightly for brevity and clarity.

Sheli: What was your conversation with Amanda Gorman like?

Blanco: She reached out to me through one of my Instagram posts celebrating her. We got in touch. Really, I just wanted to let her know what a beautiful experience it was, and give her some confidence if she had any apprehensions, though she didn't seem to need any. She's obviously very confident, and has an amazing presence.

We just talked about the tradition of being an inaugural poet. There's only three of us left alive, so there's not really anyone you can call. So we just chatted about that, and kind of what to expect. We didn't really talk about the poem, because we can't really talk about that, just like I couldn't talk about the poem until I actually delivered it.

Sheli: What were your thoughts on this inauguration in the midst of a pandemic, the absence of former President Trump, and a riot still fresh on America’s minds?

Blanco: You know, it's kind of a bittersweet feeling in so many ways. I'm glad we're finally changing the guard so to speak, but there's a lot of work ahead of us, there's a lot of damage, there's a lot that we need to repair, and there's a lot of conversations we need to have.

You can learn more about Blanco's work here.

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