Latinas: A Social and Cultural Survey

Islote Poetics-Urayoán Noel/ Poems by Nicole Cecilia Delgado

As we saw with Yarimar Bonilla’s interview and documentary as well with the essay “Dancing Backup” by Carina del Valle Schorske the long colonial processes in the archipelago and its repercussions in the diaspora have marginalized Puerto Ricans amid continuous disasters. The US frame Puerto Rico as a subordinated territory in the margins and shadows of US society, imperial wars, and politics. Using del Valle Schorske analogy, Puerto Rico and Boricuas are put in the background serving as an expendable, racialized, and sexualized workforce.

The poetic and cultural work that Nicole Cecilia Delgado does in Puerto Rico and other locations including the US is proposed as an empowering alternative to colonial oppression and ecological disasters and exemplifies the type of grassroots movement and sovereignty that Bonilla calls attention to.

Nicole Cecilia Delgado has been a leading figure in the Puerto Rican cultural landscape as a poet, translator, editor, and founder of Atarraya Cartonera and La impresora, independent non-hierarchical poetry houses that imagine alternative ways of living. A traveling poet with projects in the diaspora and Latin America, Delgado’s collaborative ecopoetic work has received increasing critical attention and recently has been translated to English by prominent translators and poets like Urayoán Noel, Raquel Salas Rivera, and Carina del Valle Schorske. Photo by ADÁL.

Urayoán Noel is a Puerto Rican poet, translator, performer, and critic living in the Bronx. He is the author of In Visible Movement: Nuyorican Poetry from the Sixties to Slam(University of Iowa Press, 2014) and the forthcoming Transversal (University of Arizona Press), among other books. His translations include No Budu Please by Wingston González (Ugly Duckling Presse, 2018) and Architecture of Dispersed Life: Selected Poetry by Pablo de Rokha (Shearsman Books, 2018), which was a finalist for the National Translation Award. Noel teaches at NYU and at Stetson University’s MFA of the Americas. Photo by Luis Carle.


Islote Poetics- U. Noel

In “Islote Poetics”, Noel proposes that Delgado re-imagines political spaces and integrates feminist poetics and inner journeys. Delgado uses intertexts (conversations and references to other poets, movements, and authors)  and experiments with graphic elements, empty spaces, and minimal text as a way to discuss colonial logic. Her work acknowledges the “from below” visions of Puerto Rican male poets and Nuyorican/Diasporican literary works, but she articulates her projects through an ecologically conscious, feminist, community-based, decentralized (beyond the city; beyond the main island), and artisanal activity. (Pages 218-9, 221)

Isla de Mona, Puerto Rico (en español)


Zoom Presentations:

Lojano, Gisella C

Lopez, Yudelka A

Nicole Delgado’s notion of translation

America- N-C- Delgado

On translation: 27:10-28:05

“Summer Soltice”/ “Noche de San Juan”: 38:50-44:00


“De Barrio Obrero a la Quince”

Delgado uses the classic 1970’s salsa song by Willie Rosario about walking in Santurce, a historically Black and migrant neighborhood in San Juan as a way to describe the collapse of the Puerto Rican urban and political project. Santurce used to be an economically thriving, culturally rich area (to some extent it continues to be so) but it has fallen to ruins because of governmental neglect and massive migration to suburbs and the US. The US is seen by Delgado as an elusive and abstract space that functions as a goal of Puerto Ricans searching for a better quality of living. She also reflects on the circular migration of Puerto Ricans and how returns are bittersweet because they highlight feelings of confusion and displacement.

With My Body I Read- N-C- Delgado

Delgado says: “soon enough I feel treelike/and grow leaves” (29). In this poem, Delgado proposes an ecological consciousness in which the body of the poet is integrated into her ecosystem: “my heart palpitates/ and pumps blood/ to all these branches.” She is at the same time human and tree. The idea of the dormant tree and nature after the hurricane is conveyed by the poet when saying “some days/one is simply/not ready/ ready to die.”  While the deforestation after the hurricane was alarming, signs of natural healing and regrow were spotted relatively quickly. Just like in nature, the poet affirms a slow and many times invisible process of recovery, self-care, and healing. The poetic voice affirms also that although expectations of outside help are at an all-time low, the heart keeps beating and the natural cycles continue. It is key here to understand, la espera, the waiting, as a reference to the well-documented lack of official relief after the hurricane.


Individual Activity

Write down a question you will like to ask Nicole Delgado on Wednesday 10/14 at 4:10 pm?

Think about her writing, translating, publishing, and community building processes but also on the content of her work. When posing questions think about her feminist, ecological, political, and grassroots visions.