Tuesday, April 6, 2010


As I mentioned in an earlier posting for National Poetry Month, I was going to post the poetry of new, up and coming poets.  Here is the first poet this month. 
In May, 2009 Ines P. Rivera Prosdocimi finished her M.F.A in Creative Writing at American University. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in the Afro-Hispanic Review, Alaska Quarterly Review, Bellevue Literary Review, Borderlands: Texas Poetry Review, Border Senses, Brush Mountain Review, Callaloo, Hispanic Cultural Review, PALABRA, Poet Lore, Revista LENGUA, and Saranac Review. Recently, her manuscript “The Flamboyan’s Red Petals,” was a finalist in the 2009 Crab Orchard Series in Poetry First Book Award competition.

Ines P. Rivera Prosdocimi (c) Alison V. Cartwright

When I approach a poem, I’m always returning to my mother tongues, to that voice in my head that emulates my sense of home. I grew up in an English speaking country, the United States, but in a Spanish speaking family where my father spoke the Spanish from Dominican Republic and my mother, the Spanish and Lunfardo from Argentina: A simple question such as, ‘How are you,’ contrasted my father’s, ‘Como estas tu,’ and my mother’s, ‘Que tal, che?’ Every country, and Latin American countries are no exception, has its own peculiarities, its own inflections and accents, sayings and vocabulary words – its inherent cultural flavors. How does one reconcile these when they come from two or more worlds? How does one come to balance these differing identities that so often can be at odds with one another? Poetry is the place where I dissect these issues, and try to show not only how different languages, cultures, religions, races or ethnic groups are unified, but how they co-exist within me and in the countries I am from.

Learning to Speak Spanglish

I missed the S not in Spanish
but Español. Somewhere

between my tongue and throat -
not a miss you,

but something missing
in the words I spoke.

My friend Jesús tells me
to return home, to speak soft-like,

like even when it’s bad
it still sounds sweet.

So I roll my Rs, practice
my prepositions.

It isn’t para, but por.
Tell myself not mas mejor,

but simply better,
to repeat my mother’s,

sank-you, sank-you,
hold not my father’s, hermano,

but his, Oye brother,
beautiful day, no? And my mouth is:

A collision of two alphabets
without teeth.
                         Poem previously appeared in BorderSenses Summer 2008

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