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'Teach Us': Famed Miami Poet Richard Blanco Inspires UM Graduates With Original Poem

CORAL GABLES (CBSMiami) – Famed Miami poet Richard Blanco inspired University of Miami graduates at the first of three commencement ceremonies Friday morning.

Blanco gained national attention in January 2013 when he recited "One Today," the powerful poem he wrote for President Barack Obama's second inauguration.

Blanco, who is an outspoken activist for diversity, LGBTQ rights, immigration, arts education, and other sociopolitical issues, is also an associate professor of English at Florida International University.

Before reciting his original poem for the first time, he received an honorary doctor of humane letters then flashed the 'U' sign for the graduates of the College of Arts and Sciences.

Richard Blanco
Poet Richard Blanco at University of Miami graduation ceremony on May 10, 2019. (CBS4)

"I could fill the next few minutes up here with a bunch of platitudes and clichés and generalities about life," Blanco said. "But instead, I was inspired to write a special poem just for you."

The poem is titled 'Teach Us'



We taught you how to unravel the spin of our galaxy and unwind the spirals of our DNA.

How to spy on the invisible splitting of atoms and the bloom of our dividing cells.

How to listen to the footsteps of our history marching through all the firestorms and tearstains of our wars.

We taught you how to savor all the colors of a painting, taste our insatiable desire to render the beauty of our pain and the pain of our beauty.

How to appreciate the art of algebra and the algebra of art.

How to dance with a poem, let it lead you through the rhythms of your life with all its beats of joy and pauses of sorrow.

We taught you how to stare into the mirror of the moon and trust into the light shimmering in your eyes.

How to decipher the creases of your palms and the wrinkles of mountains.

How to listen to the truth of your thought as certain as the will of roaring waves.

We taught you, hopefully, how to teach yourselves, believing some day you will teach us all that we couldn't teach you.

Teach us, then, today, tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow.

How to remap the world without borders that cage people in the colors of their countries without enough, though there is enough for all of us.

Teach us then how to melt our bullets into bells. Let them ring a resounding end to the subject of blood in our classrooms.

How to besiege the life we've named, studied and endangered.

Blessed be the panda's pantomime, blessed be the tiger's stalking eyes, blessed be the wails of our blue whales.

Teach us then how to make peace with them, with each other, and with the Earth, so that we may not become as endangered as we are estranged from one another.

How to stop thinking of ourselves as red and blue states, shouting at each other.

Teach us then how to look into each other's eyes this morning and every morning to see not what we are but who we are.

Teach us then how to say, 'I see you, not because you're a man or a woman or anything in between.'

Teach us then how to say, 'I see not because you're black or white or anything in between.'

Teach us then how to say, 'I see you not because you're straight or gay or anything in between.'

Teach us then. Teach us how to see, how love, how to reach the stars together.


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