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Almost a Woman
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Puerto Rican Poetry

Judith Ortiz Cofer | Martin Espada | Sandra Maria Esteves

Sandra Maria Esteves
Poet Sandra María Esteves is a "Puerto Rican-Dominican-Boriqueña- Quisqueyana-Taino-African-American," born and raised in the Bronx.

One of the founders of the Nuyorican poetry movement, she has published six collections of poetry including Finding Your Way (2001); Contrapunto In The Open Field (1998); Undelivered Love Poems (1997); Bluestown Mockingbird Mambo (1990); Tropical Rain: A Bilingual Downpour (1984); and Yerba Buena (1981) which was selected as Best Small Press in 1981 by the Library Journal.

She has conducted literary programs at organizations including the Caribbean Cultural Center and El Museo del Barrio. Ms. Esteves was awarded as an Art Review 2001 Honoree from the Bronx Council on the Arts, and received the 1985 NYFA Fellowship in Poetry. She lives in New York City.

Sandra Maria Esteves

I am two parts/a person
past and present
alive and oppressed
given a cultural beauty
. . . and robbed of a cultural identity

I speak the alien tongue
in sweet boriqueno thoughts
know love mixed with pain
have tasted spit on ghetto stairways
. . . here, it must be changed
we must change it

I may never overcome
the theft of my isla heritage
dulce palmas de coco on Luquillo
sway in windy recesses I can only imagine
and remember how it was

But that reality now a dream
teaches me to see, and will
bring me back to me.

From Yerba Buena, GreenŞeld, NY: GreenŞeld Review Press, 1981. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Not Neither
Sandra Maria Esteves

Being Puertorriqueña Dominicana
Born in the Bronx, not really jibara
Not really hablando bien
But yet, not Gringa either
Pero ni portorra, pero si portorra too
Pero ni que what am I?
Y que soy, pero con what voice do my lips move?
Rhythms of Rosa wood feet dancing Bomba
Not even here, but here, y Conga
Yet not being, pero soy, and not really
Y somos, y cómo somos?
Bueno, eso si es algo lindo
Algo muy lindo

We defy translation
Ni tengo nombre
nameless, we are a whole culture once removed
Lolita alive for twenty-five years
Ni soy, pero soy Puertorriquñea commo ella
Giving blood to the independent star
Daily transfusions into the river of La Sangre Viva.

From Stone on Stone/Piedra Sobre Piedra, edited by Zoe Anglesey. Seattle: Open Hand, 1994. Used with permission. All rights reserved.

Judith Ortiz Cofer | Martin Espada | Sandra Maria Esteves

Essays + Interviews:
Puerto Ricans in America | Puerto Rican Poetry | Esmeralda Santiago

Essays + Interviews | Puerto Rico: A Timeline
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