“A big part of Delgado’s work, as both a poet and publisher, is about imagining alternative ways of living: ecologies and economies of poetry rooted in the interpersonal, the collaborative, the open-ended, and the non-hierarchical. Her vision has become really powerful to me as I seek to understand the terms of our survival as Puerto Ricans under neoliberal austerity and neocolonial extractivism. I am especially interested in how Delgado’s work embodies space through a fraught vernacular poetics that complicates male-centered genealogies of Boricua poetry.
[The title“Noche de San Juan”] refers to the celebration of Saint John’s Eve on June 23rd (right around the summer solstice). In Puerto Rico, we popularly celebrate it by falling backward into the ocean three times. This ritual (at once playful and purifying, like Delgado’s poetry) is evoked for me by the short sequences of the poem, many of which are three lines long. I chose to leave the term in Spanish given its untranslatability but also because it can be easily googled. Additionally, I wanted to retain another possible meaning embedded in the term: “Noche de San Juan” as in San Juan (at) night. This other meaning opens up the poem into a dissonant nocturne, finding beauty amid the urban noir of a ravaged yet rebellious city.”
-Urayoán Noel, Translator Micro-Interview Series
Pick ONE of these assignment options and answer in the comment section below.
Use Delgado’s structure to write an hour by hour short-verse-remix-poem to reflect on the issues faced by Puerto Rican and Latina women. To write this poem use Delgado’s take, our class discussions, and your own personal and intellectual observations.
What reflections do you identify in Nicole Delgado’s poem about the current socio-political-cultural state of Puerto Rico? Pay special attention to these verses below:
“Summer Solstice/Noche de San Juan”
This is how the hours slip us by:
If I’ve been too political or not political enough we’ll never know.
Time is compressing and the sea is expanding.
Poetry is quiet lately.
I barely miss my old loves anymore.
Buildings are also disappearing.
I placed candles
on an altar full of rocks I found
and though they have no higher powers I feel protected.
One must protect oneself when an island goes under.
My friends leave for the United States yet sea turtles are nesting.
They close down schools yet sea turtles are nesting.
A week ago god’s hate took over the media.
There were concerts and funerals.
People dressed as angels built a fence
to protect the dead from god’s hate.
To work without pay. To work without pay. To work without pay.
How many friends left the country today? I ask,
watching the hazy insecticide sunset over a beachfront city.
You make the rice and I’ll do the dishes.
Gender is an imposed order and we don’t follow orders.
Hear the machine guns singing nearby.
Poetry died but we’re alive.
Puerto Rico died. Get me drunk.