Inaugural Poet at the Strom

Apr 15, 2013
In addition to his work as a poet, professor and engineer, Richard Blanco, pictured at the inauguration with President Barack Obama, is vice president of the Macando Foundation, an association of writers committed to serving under-served communities and working for social change through their art.
Richard Blanco reads “One Today”
(Video by: PBS)

Rockport — Richard Blanco, the Maine resident who gained national attention and recognition as the Inaugural poet for President Obama’s 2013 ceremony, is coming to the Midcoast Monday, April 22. Blanco will meet with 630 students from four local middle schools in the afternoon; and will read in a public event beginning at 7 p.m. Both events will be held at the Strom Auditorium of Camden Hills Regional High School, Route 90, and are made possible by Partners for Enrichment.

Blanco, who was born in Cuba, grew up in Miami and now lives in Bethel, became the first Latino and openly gay man to recite the inaugural poem. He accepted an invitation to come to Rockport from Tom Wilhelm of Lincolnville.

“I watched Richard read ‘One Today’ on the evening of the inaugural and thought it was a beautiful, accessible and inclusive poem that anyone could enjoy,” said Wilhelm. “I learned that we’d both attended the same high school in Miami, and felt many connections to his writing.”

After missing the opportunity to see Blanco in Portland, Wilhelm called Blanco’s agent to find out what it would entail to bring him to the area. He also talked to Lincolnville Central School Principal Paul Russo about how they might include students in the experience. Russo encouraged Wilhelm to contact Ann Bresnahan, founder and board member of Partners for Enrichment, an all-volunteer nonprofit with a 16-year history of providing arts and science enrichment to the K-8 schools of Appleton, Hope and Lincolnville.

“We would not have been able to offer this opportunity to Five Town students if it weren’t for Tom,” said Bresnahan. “He brought this idea to Partners and worked tirelessly to recruit all of our generous sponsors and organize the event. He’s given our students and community a wonderful gift.”

In preparation for Blanco’s visit, students at Hope Elementary, Appleton Village, Lincolnville Central and Camden Rockport Middle schools are studying his poems and choosing ones they would like Blanco to read. With a capacity of 820, a full house is predicted at the Strom Auditorium student event.

As it did with Wilhelm, Blanco’s inaugural poem “One Today,” with its vision of American diversity and unity, struck a chord with Partners for Enrichment. The organization has always been about bringing people together and building community, said board chairwoman Wendy Thatcher-Hall. Partners’ members come from Hope, Appleton and Lincolnville.

“We love our small town schools, and by coming together and pooling resources, we have been able to supply extraordinary arts and science enrichment to all three schools, and to connect kids who will one day be schoolmates at Camden Hills Regional High School,” said Thatcher-Hall.

Tickets for the evening public event are $10; $5 for students; proceeds benefit Partners for Enrichment. Tickets are on sale at Lincolnville Community, Appleton’s Mildred S. Williams Memorial, Rockport Public and Camden Public libraries; Hope General Store; Owl & Turtle Bookshop and HAV II in Camden; Left Bank Books in Belfast; and hello hello books and Reading Corner in Rockland.

Partners for Enrichment thanks Wilhelm and the business and individual sponsors who helped make this event possible: Jack McKenney Studio and Gallery; Viking Lumber; Camden National Bank; Lincolnville Family Dentistry; Alleson Bixler; Ann B. Bixler; Ann and Rick Bresnahan; Kristen Lindquist and Paul Doiron; Jacob and Tess Gerritsen; Patrisha and Don McLean; Caroline and Wayne Morong; and Marilyn Moss Rockefeller.

Courier Publications’ A&E Editor Dagney C. Ernest can be reached at (207) 594-4401, ext. 115 or dernest@courierpublicationsllc.com.

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