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Inspired by Inaugural Poet Richard Blanco at the URI Ocean State Summer Writing Conference

Richard Blanco inaugural poet
Richard Blanco

You’ll be seeing a few posts from me about URI’s Ocean State Summer Writing Conference. There was just way too much great stuff for me to squeeze into one post. One big highlight was the Keynote by Inaugural Poet Richard Blanco, who spoke about the big moment his agent called to share the news. He also shared the ways that being inaugural poet has affected his life and his mission.

Halfway through his talk, before he even shared about his mission to bring poetry back into our lives and our schools, I realized how much poetry meant to me in the past and how this love had been tainted for me by what I saw as a lack of interest in poetry nationally. I had come to wonder how relevant poetry was in our modern world. Blanco reminded me how poetry was not just relevant, but life-giving, vibrant and  necessary.

Blanco’s stories of random Americans hugging him on the streets after hearing his inaugural poem–and his realization that Cubans without college degrees not only knew poetry but sang it and shared it regularly–put me back in touch with how HAPPY poetry had made me when I’d been immersed in it–reading it, writing it, sharing it.

In that moment I imagined sharing poems at the dinner table with my family–perhaps each of us bringing a favorite poem. Maybe inviting friends over for a poetry potluck. That night, more poets shared amazing poems–Mairead Byrne had the entire room in stitches with several hilarious poems and fragments and Kristin Prevallet‘s hypnotic poems remained with me for days.

Driving home afterwards, I had to pull over into the RiteAid parking lot and write, because the words kept flowing and the red light changed too quickly to get it all down. It felt so good to be writing poems again. I made myself a promise: no matter what I do, I’m writing one poem a day. They can be inspired; they can be silly, goofy, trite. I don’t care. Yesterday I wrote a poem with my six-year-old.

Thank you Richard Blanco, Mairead Byrne, Kristin Prevallet and everyone at the URI Ocean State Summer Writing Conference for putting poetry back in my life–where it belongs.

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Lisa Tener

Lisa Tener is an award-winning book writing coach who assists writers in all aspects of the writing process—from writing a book proposal and getting published to finding one’s creative voice. Her clients have appeared on The Oprah Winfrey Show, CBS Early Show, The Montel Williams Show, CNN, Fox News, New Morning and much more. They blog on sites like The Huffington Post, Psychology Today and WebMD.

Reader Interactions


  1. Ingrid Kincaid says

    Thank you Lisa for such a beautiful post. Such good reminders. In our technology/communication age there seems to be so many words, and so many of them not necessary. I love poetry for the way it invites us to say as much as possible with a few well-chosen words. I have just completed a book of illustrated poems and am surprised a bit at how many of the publishers don’t want to take on poetry books.

    • Lisa Tener says

      Thanks, Ingrid. Maybe Richard Blanco will help change that–with our help. In the meantime, consider self-publishing. It can be so rewarding to get your work out there.

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      I do not generally have guest bloggers on this site. However, if you would like to do an author interview, you can do that for

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