Richard Blanco reads at US Embassy
Cuban-American poet Richard Blanco
Cuban-American poet Richard Blanco AP Photo/Desmond Boylan

HAVANA — Cuban-American poet Richard Blanco said he hopes the poem he read Friday at the reopened U.S. embassy in Havana will serve as a catalyst to an emotional reconciliation.

The poem called “Matters of the Sea,” or “Cosas del Mar,” refers to the 90 miles of water between Cuba and the U.S. that serves both to separate and unite people.

Blanco, who was President Obama’s inaugural poet in 2013, said it was one of the most emotional poems he’s written.

It begins: “The sea doesn’t matter. What matters is this — that we all belong to the sea between us.”

“It was the easiest poem and the hardest poem to write. In some ways all of my body of work has circled around this idea of cultural identity and negotiation of this sense of home,” said Blanco, the son of Cuban exiles who came to the U.S. in 1968 from Spain.

Blanco, who currently lives in Bethel, Maine, described Friday’s event as surreal just like Obama’s inauguration in which he became the first Latino, openly gay person and immigrant to hold the title of inaugural poet.

He said in a phone interview he hopes his new poem will spur Cubans to reunite emotionally after years of separation due to politics, travel restrictions and an economic embargo.

“Here I am, this bridge between the American side and the Cuban side. My hope was somehow that my word would continue to strength that bridge, to strengthen a conversation,” he said.

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