“Explaining My Depression to My Mother” by Sabrina Benaim
“Ohm” by Saul Williams
“Why are Muslims So…” by Sakila & Hawa
“14 Lines from Love Letters or Suicide Notes” by Doc Luben
“Some Things You Need to Know Before Dating Me” by Jamie Mortara
“What Society Says to Men” by Helly Shah
“AmeRícan” by Tato Laviera
“Through the Fence…” by Edward Vidaurre
“America” by Allen Ginsberg
“The Good Life” by Tracy K. Smith
“When a Boy Tells You He Loves You” by Edwin Bodeny
“OCD” by Neil Hilborn
“Peach Scone” by Hobo Johnson & the LoveMakers
“I Will Not Let an Exam Result Decide my Fate” by Suli Breaks
“Consent at 10,000 Feet” by Guante
“Can We Auto-Correct Humanity?” by Prince Ea
“To This Day” by Shane Koyczan
“34 Excuses for Why We Failed at Love” by Warsan Shire
“Storm” by Tim Minchin
“Chingona” by Leticia
“Afro-Latina” by Elizabeth Acevedo
“Juan Valdez” by Carlos Andres Gomez
“Dear Straight People” by Denice Frohman
“Poema XV”/ “I Like for You to be Still” by Pablo Neruda
“McAllen Our Rinconcito” by Priscilla Celia Suarez
“Some Days” by Amalia Ortiz
“For the Quiet Kids Who’ve Been Told ‘Speak Up'” by Grace Carras
Your love: a mixed tape the car stereo ate; a sell-by-date, batteries not included, rough around the edges; scentless potpourri
from Chapin City Blues
I started to celebrate National Poetry Month. And I pre-selected each poem the day I made my decision to do this. However, April 29th and 30th were left unfilled. I didn’t know what to put in there. During this time, I discovered (for myself) the poetry of Grace Carras. So I had to give her one of the two slots.
This last piece took me years to write and hours to record and mix. And I hope that you enjoyed this journey as much as I.
I purchased my copy of The Poems of Pablo Neruda in college. Since then, I picked it up every once in a while. Thumb through its pages. And read where my finger lands. It’s not always an English translation, but that’s not far away if I need or want to read it.
And in my broken Spanish, I recite his words. And fall in love with the way he used the language.
Today I present to you two versions of the same poem. In the original Spanish and the translation by W. S. Merwin. Please enjoy.
Déjame que te hable también con tu silencio claro como una lámpara, simple como un anillo. Eres como la noche, callada y constelada. Tu silencio es de estrella, tan lejano y sencillo.
And let me talk to you with your silence that is bright as a lamp, simple as a ring. You are like the night, with its stillness and constallations. Your silence is that of a star, as remote and candid.
Once I gave a girl a copy of Pablo Neruda’s love poems. Call me the pretentious Latinx college student wanting to impress the girl.* Truth is, I never read the book. Never read anything by Neruda until a few years later when I purchased a copy of The Poetry of Pablo Neruda on a whim. Wasn’t too long until I discovered a poem that just resonated with me (and still does to this day).
There’s a certain romanticism and magic realism that marks a Neruda poem, which Pam Muñoz Ryan captures in her juvenile novel, The Dreamer. Peppered with the illustrations of Peter Sís, the novel follows young Neftalí as he tries to find his place in the world. His imagination is fueled by the books he reads. He collects words and pine cones as if they were treasures made especially for him. He loses himself in daydreams and magical worlds, which is discouraged and forbidden by his overbearing father. But the world around Neftalí is changing and fueled with violence and injustice. As he struggles to speak with a stutter, he begins to use his gift of writing to give voice for others unable to speak for themselves.
Pam Muñoz Ryan’s Pura Belpré Award winning novel gives us a peek into a world no different than ours. With a political turmoil spilling out into the streets. Where those in power are silencing the media. Where fathers force their beliefs into their children’s lives. With those who are trying to change the world do so with a pen rather than a bullet. And yet, where magic still exists. Still thrives within the pages of literature and leaves of nature. This coming of age story is a must for those seeking a book to share with the children in their lives.
Continue dreaming, dreamers. And happy huntin’.
*You should have already figured out who the girl is by this point.
I scarcely knew, by myself, that I existed,
that I'd be able to be, and go on being.
I was afraid of that, of life itself.
I didn't want to be seen,
I didn't want my existence to be known.
I became pallid, thin, and absentminded.
I didn't want to speak so that nobody
would recognize my voice, I didn't want
to see so that nobody would see me.
Walking, I pressed myself against the wall
like a shadow slipping away.
I would have dressed myself in red roof tiles, in smoke,
to continue there, but invisible,
to attend everything, but at a distance,
to keep my own obscure identity
fastened to the rhythm of the spring.
A girl's face, the pure surprise
of a laugh dividing the day in two
like the two hemispheres of an orange,
and I shifted to another street,
unnerved by life and tentative,
close to water without tasting its coolness,
close to fire without kissing its flame,
and a mask of pride encased me,
and I was thin and arrogant as a spear,
unlistening, unlistened to
(I made that impossible),
like the whine of a hurt dog
at the bottom of a well.
--Pablo Neruda, from The Poetry of Pablo Neruda
This day marks the death of innocence
where will their love go to extinguish
emptiness fills the vacant chambers in their chests
where once hope crafted smiles
with the raw materials of their wishful thinking