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When it comes to poetry, I bring together in a reader the poems that were featured on my unitedstatesean blog. This poem to me also symbolizes the various poets marching shoulder to shoulder with the undocumented. What opened up your eyes to possi bility of capturing this image: that the closest beauty poetry can aspire to is in marching down International?

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Octavio Paz says that prose is like a march whereas poetry is like a dance, but I feel that my most poetic experience was being part of an immigrant rights march down International, a march that feels much like a dance. In contrast to the rally for which there is a line-up of speakers, the march has no central voice; it has a head, by which I mean a direction, by which I mean a purpose; it has a tail, by which I mean a history, by which I mean a legacy; the march seems to be a living organism composed of diverse and immediate rhythms.

I wanted to capture the diverse rhythms of that march in the chapbook, to capture the multidirectional voices. So I decided to include the poem to document all undocumented poems in order to show what you describe so beautifully: the image of various poets marching shoulder to shoulder with los Inquiet s. Soy el hermano sin papeles.


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Cuando tienen visita. Pero me da risa. Y me echo un taco. Y no quedarme flaco. Hoy el primero de mayo,. Voy a marchar con mi pueblo. Se van a dar cuenta lo chido que soy. Y les va dar verguenza. And yet in these bilingual poems, there is also a beauty that goes undocumented for the monolingual reader.

This poem and other such translations in the chapbook were inspired by the Oakland-based Black Alliance for Just Immigration BAJI and its stance that the struggle for immigrant rights is a continuation of the civil rights struggle. I consider the poems to be bilingual in that I took a rhythm from a poem written in English and adapted it to Spanish.

So even though the poem is in Spanish there is still an echo of the rhythm of the original English. I glove you. What is the importance of humor in your work and in particular the humor of the bilingual poem? JOH: The importance of humor in my work is to show the lighthearted aspect in the serious and the serious aspect in the lighthearted.

I have jokes in my poetry, and I have poetry in my jokes. In the immigrant rights echapbook that we have been discussing, I have an undocumented joke on each page. To get to el otro lado. Why immigrants cross borders is a serious question that many scholars and public officials have seriously engaged and attempted to answer. I just happen to think that my punch line is a more satisfying answer than their push and pull explanations.

No te awheates. She said that it made sense that the Mexican corn tortilla would be the one to provide solace to the U. Her analysis, I think, provides a convincing interpretation. I take jokes seriously and poetry lightheartedly because jokes and poetry have this in common: they both defamiliarize, and hopefully this defamiliarization leads to both delight and wisdom. And, you should know, I have serious plans to publish a book of bilingual chistes titled Puro Jokes. I want to write a poem that can be read as either English or Spanish. This poem will be in both languages at once.

Well, I guess it would be two poems because the if-read- in-English poem would differ from the if-read-in-Spanish poem. Does that make sense? It would be the same words, but you could read them as English or Spanish. This is the catch: I want the poem to be good in both languages.

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And this is the dream: I would submit it to one of these high-profile English-only literary journals, and they would publish the English poem without realizing that they also published an entire poem in Spanish. LV: And finally since this is an interview profiling your recently published second collection of poems, American Copia, what do you hope readers take from your poems? Yolanda decided that she would look in the shed to see if she could find devils. She did not find that, but she did find some newborn kittens. She was not sure what to do so she started inside to ask an adult.

On the way she saw a man hunting birds in her yard. She decided to ask him what to do. He said that if she took the kittens too young then they would die and she would be responsible. Once he started shooting the gun the mother cat was startled and left. She decided that she would not follow his advice because he was killing mother birds with babies so what did he know anyway? She took her favorite kitten, which she named Schwartz, from the shed and took it inside. The cat started to bother Yolanda so she threw it outside and hurt its leg. After that she had nightmares about the mother cat coming back.

Yolanda compares herself to the kitten. You then, as a reader, start to see the metaphor very clear. The mother cat represents the Dominican Republic and the girls comfortable home.


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Yolanda takes the kitten away and it is not able to adapt to its new environment. They are not able to adapt to the two cultures and find a healthy way to adopt both customs. Instead they are lost with no home that they can belong to, like the kitten. The mother cat constantly appears in her dreams much like the Dominican Republic will appear as a problem in her life as an adult. An American Surprise. In this chapter Carla is the active voice. Their father had gone to New York and returned with toys for each of them.

He told them they could only have them after they had dinner.

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Carla was very anxious and wanted clues as to what their toys could be. She was told that she would have to wait. Gladys was their maid and her and Carla were close. Gladys told Carla that the statue of liberty was an American version of the Virgin Mary so she wanted to go to New York and see her. She admitted to praying to her every day.

American Copia: An Immigrant Epic

After the girls ate dinner they were given their presents. The girls all got banks with moving figurines on top. Carla later brought the bank to school and got almost a dollar in pennies. The mother, family friends, and maid often put money into the bank. After Christmas time Gladys wanted to know if she could give Carla her present wallet with money to her in exchange for the bank.

Latin America sees more European immigration

In this innovative work that uses grocery stores as a guiding motif, he deftly combines English and Spanish to explore his identity as an immigrant, naturalized citizen, son, brother, lover, graduate student. Visits to grocery stores in the U. But he looks beyond his own personal circumstances as he explores the abundance of experience found in going to the grocery store. Through poetry written in Spanish, a short play, non-fiction passages and even text messages, Huerta delves into subjects such as consumerism and health foods available only to a limited class of people.

The diverse pieces and themes in American Copia pulsate with all that can be both communal and autonomous in everyday life. Men take advantage of women; people protest against practices that place corporate profits above a fair wage for farmworkers; and, sometimes, people commit acts of violence.

Though Huerta touches on serious subjects, many of these short vignettes are quirky and humorous.