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WATCH: Richard Blanco Urges U.S. and Cuba to 'Heal Together' at Embassy Reopening

WATCH: Richard Blanco Urges U.S. and Cuba to 'Heal Together' at Embassy Reopening


The gay inaugural poet, who is Cuban-American, read a moving poem at the historic occasion in Havana.

Richard Blanco read a moving poem, "Matters of the Sea," at the reopening of the U.S. embassy in Havana, Cuba.

The gay poet, who is of Cuban descent, remarked Friday how the event was a time for healing between the Caribbean nation and the United States.

The countries, which had severed ties during the Cold War, restored diplomatic relations July 20.

Blanco, who came to public attention as the poet of Barack Obama's second inauguration, was commissioned by the U.S. State Department to write a poem to mark the occasion. His dedicated it to "the people of both our countries who believed that not even the sea can keep us from one another."

His words reminded listeners of the shared experiences of life and nature, as symbolized by the small stretch of ocean that separated the two nations.

"The sea doesn't matter. What matters is this: We all belong to the sea between us," he said.

He ended his oration with a call "to breathe together, to heal together."

Blanco had previously written about his experiences growing up as a gay Cuban-American in his memoir The Prince of Los Cocuyos. In the book, he struggles with his identity as a person from different worlds.

"I'm a little from everywhere," he told The Advocate after the memoir's release. "And aren't we all? At the end of the day, as you move more through life, you take little pieces of everything that you experience -- people we love, people we know, people we meet."

"History moves very slowly," said Blanco, who is an advocate for immigration-related causes. "Some of the same questions I've asked in my poetry and asked in my book are still some of the same questions that Whitman was asking. What is America? We may never have a final answer, or that answer keeps on changing. Look what's happened in the last 10, 15 years. If you really think about it, 10 years ago, I couldn't have been selected as inaugural poet. The country would not have been ready."

Matters of the Seawill be available in September as a bilingual chapbook.

Watch his reading below.

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