In January 2013, Blanco was selected by President Obama to be the inaugural poet, joining the ranks of Robert Frost and Maya Angelou. His acclaimed first book of poetry, City of a Hundred Fires, explores the yearnings and negotiation of cultural identity as a Cuban- American, and received the Agnes Starrett Poetry Prize from the University of Pittsburgh Press. His second book, Directions to The Beach of the Dead, won the Beyond Margins Award from the PEN American Center for its continued exploration of the universal themes of cultural identity and homecoming. Looking for The Gulf Motel, (University of Pittsburgh Press, 2012) examines the blurred lines of gender, the frailty of his father-son relationship, and the intersection of his cultural and sexual identities as a Cuban-American gay man living in rural Maine.
Sami Miranda is an educator, poet and visual artists who makes his home in Washington, DC. His work has been published in Al Pie De la Casa Blanca, Full Moon on K St, the Chiron Review, DC Poets Against the War Anthology, MiPoesias.com and Beltway among others. He has performed at venues such as the Kennedy Center, The Smithsonian Museum of American Art, The Smithsonian Museum of African Art and GALA Theatre. Sami curated the Sabor Sunday reading series in Washington DC, that brought two poets, a trio of musicians and two visual artists into conversation. He is currently recording a jazz and poetry collaboration with bass player Pepe Gonzalez. He develops and facilitates interactive poetry workshops for youth and adults and holds an MFA from The Bennington Writing Seminars.