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Inaugural Poet Robert Blanco at PSU April 17

 PLYMOUTH — The Eagle Pond Authors' Series at Plymouth State University will present a reading by Inaugural Poet Robert Blanco at 7 p.m. April 17 in the Smith Recital Hall at the Silver Center for the Arts. There is no charge for admission.

Richard Blanco quips on his website that he was "Made in Cuba, Assembled in Spain and Imported to the U.S.A." In fact his parents emigrated from Cuba to Madrid when his mother was seven months pregnant. Blanco was born in Madrid in February, 1968. Forty-five days later the family moved again, to New York City, and eventually settled in Florida, where he was raised and educated. Blanco earned a BS in Civil Engineering and an MFA in Creative Writing from Florida International University.

Driven by a curiosity to examine the essence of place and belonging, Blanco became an extensive traveler, exploring Spain, Italy, France, Guatemala, Brazil, Cuba, Washington DC, Connecticut and eventually to Bethel, Maine, where he now lives with partner Mark Neveu, a renowned research scientist.

Blanco's acclaimed first book, City of a Hundred Fires (1998) explores the yearnings and negotiation of cultural identity as a Cuban-American and received the prestigious Agnes Lynch Starrett Poetry Prize. His second book, Directions to the Beach of the Dead (2005) won the PEN American Beyond Margins Award for its continued exploration of the universal themes of place and homecoming. His third collection, Looking for The Gulf Motel (2012), won the Paterson Poetry Prize and Thom Gunn Award from the Publishing Triangle.

In 2013 Blanco made history as the first Latino, first openly gay man, first immigrant and youngest writer to hold the honor of being Inaugural Poet of the United States, when he was selected to create and read a poem for President Barack Obama's second inauguration. Jennifer Benka, executive director of the American Academy of Poets said the process of writing and then delivering "One Today," which she regards a one of the most important occasional poems in our history, led Blanco to a new understanding of himself and our country, and gave him hope for poetry in America. She said, "Many poets, teachers, and readers heed Blanco's call for more poetry in our nation's classrooms and for poetry's greater presence on the American cultural landscape.

Following the inauguration, Blanco has continued connecting communities through occasional poetry. He has written and performed occasional poems for such organizations as Freedom to Marry, the Tech Awards and the Fragrance Awards. In May 2013, Blanco wrote "Boston Strong," an occasional poem he performed at the post-Boston Marathon TD Boston Garden Benefit Concert and at a Red Sox game at Fenway Park. Following his performances, he released a limited edition Boston Strong chapbook, with all proceeds going to those most affected by the bombings.

He is the recipient of two Florida Artist Fellowships, a Residency Fellowship from the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts, and the John Ciardi Fellowship from the Bread Loaf Writers' Conference. Blanco's poems have appeared in countless literary journals and anthologies, including Best American Prose Poems and Ploughshares. Blanco is a professional civil engineer and has also taught.

Free tickets for the Eagle Pond Authors Series are available at the Silver Center Box Office (603) 535-2787 or (800) 779-3869, and are highly recommended. The series is presented with generous support from the Follett Higher Education Group (PSU Bookstore).

Now in its 16th year, the Eagle Pond Authors' Series is a tribute to Donald Hall, one of the nation's most beloved poets and authors. Hall remains the heart and soul of this series and is instrumental in bringing nationally and internationally revered poets to the PSU campus. Hall will be on hand to introduce Blanco and both will stay after the reading for an author's reception and book signing.

 

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Robert Blanco (Courtesy photo)

Last Updated on Wednesday, 09 April 2014 07:22

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Temple B'Nai Israel Holding Annual Passover Seder April 15

LACONIA — The annual Passover festivities, commemorating the Jewish exodus from Egypt will be held at Temple B'nai Israel on Tuesday evening, April 15. As always, the congregation invites all who wish to share this special occasion to join for the ritual service, dinner and singing. Rabbi Hannah Orden will lead the event and looks forward to meeting and seeing temple members, unaffiliated Jewish area residents and other community friends.

Come in time for traditional appetizers and good conversation. The Seder will begin at 5:30 p.m. Chef Irene Gordon promises a new menu with several surprises as well.

Call Irene at 267-1935 or 496-0944 to make reservations. The cost is $20 for adults and $10 for children.

Last Updated on Wednesday, 09 April 2014 07:09

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Irwin wins Toyota President's Award

LACONIA — Toyota Motor Sales has selected Irwin Toyota Scion as the winner of the company's most coveted accolades, the 2013 President's Award. The award honors those businesses that are superior in all facets of their operations, with an emphasis on maintaining Toyota's high standards for customer satisfaction.

Irwin Toyota has received this award due to their excellence in each of a series of categories, including customer sales satisfaction and customer service satisfaction, in addition to other sales and certification metrics. Irwin has become dedicated to operational excellence and superior customer care. Their excellent customer care has immensely contributed to the winning of this award. They consistently respond to their customer needs and fosters loyalty that creates a brighter tomorrow for Toyota Motor Sales.

The President's Award is an incredible recognition for the dealerships and shines a light on real-life instances that embody Toyota's values of safety, reliability and an overall commitment to customer service to make all owners part of the larger Toyota family around the globe.

"We're excited and honored to win this prestigious award. We've put a tremendous amount of effort into improving our level of customer service as well as facilities. We have to thank our employees and customers who made this possible," said Chris Irwin, Vice President of Irwin Toyota Scion. Irwin Toyota will continue to strive in the areas of customer service, bringing superior satisfaction to every customer.

Last Updated on Tuesday, 08 April 2014 09:32

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Lakes Region Chamber to Host Trip to Italy in the Fall

 LACONIA — The Lakes Region Chamber of Commerce will be hosting a trip to Tuscany, Italy in November of 2014.

To learn more about the chance to explore the endless opportunities that Tuscany has to offer, join the Chamber for an Information Meeting on Wednesday, April 23 at 5:30 p.m. The meeting will be held in the Elm Room, Woodside Building at Taylor Community, 435 Union Avenue in Laconia. The 9-day trip is scheduled from November 14-22,  with a cost of $2,749 per person air and land from Boston, seven nights including hotels, meals, and day trips. The tour features first-class accommodations, superb cuisine, sightseeing in Florence, Pistoria, Chianti region and wine tasting at Cantine di Greve, professional tour host, private deluxe air conditioned motorcoach with an optional Rome extension.

"We had such an overwhelming response with our recent trip to China, the Chamber is pleased to offer another unique travel opportunity to our community," states Karmen Gifford, Executive Director of the Lakes Region Chamber of Commerce.. Known for its beautiful landscapes, its rich artistic legacy and vast influence on high culture, Tuscany is widely regarded as the true birthplace of the Italian Renaissance, and has been home to some of the most influential people in the history of art and science.

Information will be presented by a travel representative from Central Holidays, a tour company that works with Chambers of Commerce throughout the United States. Find out more about the itinerary, trip registration, optional tours and excursions, and answers to your travel questions. Register to attend the information meeting by contacting the Chamber at 603-524-5531 or e-mail This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. . Space may be limited, registration is strongly encouraged.

The Lakes Region Chamber of Commerce is a non-profit, 501c-6 organization, creating value for members through collaboration and education that promotes a more engaged community and thriving economy for the businesses in the Lakes Region. For more information about the Lakes Region Chamber of Commerce, visit them on the web at LakesRegionChamber.org , find them on Facebook or call (603) 524-5531.

Last Updated on Tuesday, 08 April 2014 09:27

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