In Poetry Is Not a Luxury we use the best contemporary poets to explore the most urgent social issues. Each month we focus on a different book and discuss poetry as poets do. We read our favorite poems out loud, listen for sound and rhythm, consider how the poet plays with language, and consider the joys and sorrows in the poems.
Our 2017-2018 season focuses on Voices of the Silenced/Voices of the Resistance.
The January selection for Poetry Is Not a Luxury is Looking for the Gulf Motel by Richard Blanco. This 2012 collection is a genealogy of the heart, exploring how Blanco's Cuban family’s emotion legacy has shaped—and continues shaping—his perspectives.
The collection is presented in three movements, each one chronicling his understanding of a particular facet of life from childhood into adulthood. As a child born into the milieu of his Cuban exiled familia, the first movement delves into early questions of cultural identity and their evolution into his unrelenting sense of displacement and quest for the elusive meaning of home. The second, begins with poems peering back into family again, examining 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. In the last movement, poems focused on his mother’s life shaped by exile, his father’s death, and the passing of a generation of relatives, all provide lessons about his own impermanence in the world and the permanence of loss. Looking for the Gulf Motel is looking for the beauty of that which we cannot hold onto, be it country, family, or love.