AP Exclusive: Inaugural poet launches Cuba writing project

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Poet Richard Blanco is launching a writing project to lift what he calls Cuba’s “emotional embargo.”

Blanco and writer Ruth Behar, both Cuban-Americans, tell The Associated Press they are launching “Bridges to/from Cuba” to connect Cubans on and off the island through stories.

The blog, launched Tuesday, will feature poets, scholars, celebrities and others spanning across generations, races and geography reflecting on their experience with Cuba and their hopes and dreams for the future.

As the U.S. and Cuba move closer to normalizing relations, Blanco and Behar say “instant experts” have furthered a distorted image of Cuba. They hope to provide a forum for a wide array of voices.

Blanco was selected as the nation’s inaugural poet in 2013.