Blanco still remains one of the most renowned American poets. He is famous for his
profound eloquence and, most recently, for reading one of his poems during
President Barrack Obama’s second inauguration. Blanco is a second generation
Cuban immigrant who has always been proud of his cultural identity and his
inexorable sense of displacement it causes him within the wider American
society. Looking for The Gulf Motel
is his third poetry book focusing on family heritage, childhood, the transition
to adulthood, gender stereotypes and the undercurrents of long-term
relationships. The author focuses on life as a Cuban exile in his first
movement and cultural identity while seeking to understand the meaning of
“home.” “Looking for The Gulf Motel” is Blanco’s opening
title poem which sets the tone for the first movement and his experience at a
Floridian motel that he once visited with his kin. It is an attempt to dig deep
into the past and reconstruct a lost childhood vacation through vivid poetry.
reminiscing tone pervades the poem as Blanco fondly remembers his motel visit
while with his family on vacation in Florida. Although it is a time lost to him
and far back in the past, he seeks to retrieve it with poetry as his conduit.
It is well apparent that the author has a vivid memory, allowing him to recover
and detail his childhood experience accurately. Blanco also goes beyond the
typical self-referential attitude that most autobiographers adopt when
detailing events that are now stored in the depths of their memories. There is
no doubt that he presents a reliable recollection. He even goes as far as reminding the reader
that he genuinely does remember these events. The poignant refrain which appears
on four different occasions reads:
“There should be nothing here
I don’t remember…” (Blanco, 2012,
p. 1). Blanco uses his
reminiscing tone expertly to remind the reader of the attachment he has with
these memories and their importance to him. In addition to this, the haunting
refrain is italicized which indicates his resolve when presenting the
recollection while still being committed to a level of artful resurrection.
also uses imagery to represent objects and a number of his ideas in ways that
would appeal to any reader’s physical senses. It is also through imagery that
the author manages to use words that accurately create visual illustrations in
the reader’s mind. He begins by using several visual images that aim to appeal
to the reader’s sense of sight. For instance, Blanco relates a memory he has of
his mother while she hurries to prepare a meal in the kitchenette. He describes
the “daisy sandals” to the reader to paint a picture of his mother’s trendy
wear while on vacation in Florida (Blanco,
2012, p. 1). Blanco also proceeds to paint auditory images to appeal to
his reader’s sense of sound. He describes how his mother’s daisy sandals were
essentially “squeaking across the linoleum” which presents an actual
auditory image. Blanco’s ubiquitous use of vivid descriptions, therefore,
provides the readers with an accurate delineation of his memories critical in
understanding his childhood.
for The Gulf Motel” was also written with sound and rhythm being on the
author’s mind. The poem is quite musical which also serves its primary purpose
since it creates more conversational movements.
The tonal pattering also suggests that Blanco aimed to create a poetic
masterpiece that adhered to the established standards. There are numerous
instances where the author uses alliteration to draw attention to specific
ideas that he seeks to communicate to his readers. For instance, Blanco writes,
“and ship’s wheel in the lobby should still be rising out…” (Blanco, 2012, p. 1). The repetition of the “s”
and “l” sounds signifies their importance to the author and also the
fact that they are being used to convey a specific meaning related to the key
themes under discussion. These sounds also create a sense of rhythm in the poem
which ensures the use of a steady beat. In addition to this, the author also
uses consonance which is often applied in quick succession. He refers to
describes “scruffy suitcases” which produces an unexpected rhyme.
also uses figures of speech to develop his poem and make it more interesting.
He starts by using similes to ignite the reader’s imagination and communicate
the poem’s central themes. Blanco claims
that: “The Gulf Motel with mermaid lampposts and ship’s wheel in the lobby
should still be rising out of the sand like a cake decoration” (Blanco, 2012, p. 1).
His comparison of the lampposts rising out of the sand akin to a cake
decoration is fundamental to the development of the poem since the readers can
create a mental image of the comparison. The author also uses hyperbole to
emphasize the extreme exaggerations he presents to the readers. Their arrival
at the motel in Florida is described as an embarrassing affair for the boys
since their parents a lot of luggage and mangoes that were enough to last then
an entire week. The author uses this overstatement to evoke humor from the
situation from the fact that the family was unable to afford eating out during
In conclusion, Richard Blanco uses poetry as an
outlet to express his sentiments about various periods in his life.
“Looking for The Gulf Motel” captures his childhood experience
succinctly as the author seeks to dig deep into the past. Blanco uses a
reminiscing tone, imagery, rhythm, and figures of speech to enhance the reader’s
experience as he takes them down memory lane.
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