Book Review: How to Love a Country by Richard Blanco

htlacHow to Love a Country by Richard Blanco
Published: 2019
Genre: Poetry
Format: Hardcover
Pages: 112
Source: Library
Date Read: June 2, 2019
Grade: B-
As presidential inaugural poet, memoirist, public speaker, educator, and advocate, Richard Blanco has crisscrossed the nation inviting communities to connect to the heart of human experience and our shared identity as a country. In this new collection of poems, his first in over seven years, Blanco continues to invite a conversation with all Americans. Through an oracular yet intimate and accessible voice, he addresses the complexities and contradictions of our nationhood and the unresolved sociopolitical matters that affect us all.

The poems form a mosaic of seemingly varied topics: the Pulse Nightclub massacre; an unexpected encounter on a visit to Cuba; the forced exile of 8,500 Navajos in 1868; a lynching in Alabama; the arrival of a young Chinese woman at Angel Island in 1938; the incarceration of a gifted writer; and the poet’s abiding love for his partner, who he is finally allowed to wed as a gay man. But despite each poem’s unique concern or occasion, all are fundamentally struggling with the overwhelming question of how to love this country. (from Goodreads)


htlacReadability: 4/5

I struggled to get into some of these poems. I think it’s because I struggle to read prose poetry in general. Luckily, not all of these were like that, and the ones that weren’t flowed a lot more smoothly for me.

Interest Level: 4/5

A lot of these poems are painful to read because they’re so relatable for anyone living in today’s America. But not even just today’s America. Since the beginning. I hate how relatable they are, and I hate that I meet people every day who either don’t care or don’t think they are relatable.

Total: 8/10 = 80% B-

Favorite Poems:

  • “Como Tú / Like You / Like Me” (11-12)
  • “November Eyes” (47-48)
  • “Let’s Remake America Great” (49-50)
  • “Easy Lynching on Herndon Avenue” (51-52)
  • “Until We Could” (57-59)
  • “Between [Another Door]” (60)
  • “Seventeen Funerals” (63)
  • “America the Beautiful Again” (66-67)


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