Blanco heads to Belfast

Left Bank fetes 10th with literary bang

Jul 21, 2014
Richard Blanco

Belfast — Left Bank Books will mark its 10th birthday with a literary double-header Saturday and Sunday, Aug. 2 and 3, featuring Inaugural Poet Richard Blanco and best-selling novelist Lily King. The public is warmly invited to both of these free events, but reservations are required.

Blanco will speak about and read from his poetry from 5 to 6 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 2, with a signing and refreshments immediately afterwards. The event will take place at the First Church of Belfast, located diagonally across Church Street from Left Bank Books.

Blanco, who lives in Bethel, was chosen as the fifth inaugural poet of the United States, following in the footsteps of such great writers as Robert Frost and Maya Angelou. He read his original poem, "One Today," at President Obama's second inauguration on Jan. 21, 2013. That day confirmed him as an historical figure, the first Latino, immigrant, and gay writer bestowed with such an honor, as well as the youngest ever at age 44.

"One Today" resonated deeply with millions of Americans who were touched by its humanity and power. In the 18 months since, Blanco has been sought out by audiences across the country and he has been traveling nearly constantly and working, particularly with schoolchildren. The themes of place and belonging that characterize his work are rooted in his own childhood. By the time he was just a few weeks old, Blanco already belonged to three countries: his mother was pregnant when she and his father arrived as exiles from Cuba to Madrid where Blanco was born; less than two months later, the family emigrated to the United States, settling first in New York, then Miami.

Blanco is the author of three collections of poetry and a prose publication, “For All of Us, One Today: An Inaugural Poet’s Journey,” in which he shares the emotional details of his experience as inaugural poet, his understanding of what it means to be an American, and his life-changing role as a public voice. His autobiography will be published in September.

King will be at the bookshop, 109 Church St., Sunday, Aug. 3, at 3 p.m., speaking about her newest novel, “Euphoria,” and signing copies of all of her books immediately afterwards until 5 p.m. Inspired by the life of anthropologist Margaret Mead, “Euphoria” tells the story of three trail-blazing anthropologists caught in a complex love triangle in 1930s New Guinea. Just published in June, “Euphoria” has received glowing national reviews including front-page kudos in the New York Times Book Review.

King is the author of three previous novels and the winner of numerous prestigious awards. Her second book, “The English Teacher,” was named the Chicago Tribune's Best Book of the Year and won the Maine Fiction Award. Her third, “Father of the Rain,” was a New York Times Editors' Choice and won both the New England Book Award for Fiction and the Maine Fiction Award. “Euphoria” is on the summer reading lists of the Boston Globe, O Magazine and USA Today. King, who lives with her family in Falmouth, is the recipient of a MacDowell Fellowship and a Whiting Writers' Award, as well as a Raymond Carver Prize for Fiction.

Speaking about the weekend, shop owners "We are so grateful for 10 years of community friendship and support, and so honored to bring both of these wonderful writers to Belfast," said Left Bank’s Marsha Kaplan, Barbara Klausmeyer and Lindsay McGuire.

For more information about either of these events, or to reserve seats or signed books, call Left Bank Books at 338-9009 or email leftbank @myfairpoint.net.

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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