Latinx Poets @ The Bronx Zoo

This afternoon was especially empowering. Poet José Olivárez and author Peggy Robles-Alvarado led the conversation in the first of the fall Poetry Town Hall Tour series at the Bronx Zoo. Olivarez is a poet and educator from Chicago, graduate of Harvard University and program director at Urban Word NYC. Peggy Robles-Alvarado is an educator and author of Conversations With My Skin, and Homenaje A Las Guerreras.  After reading their award-winning bilingual poetry, Olivárez shared his struggles of navigating a stubbornly monolingual school system. Reading work by Latinx writers expanded perceptions of what was permissible and left him feeling empowered in his Latinx identity.

Robles-Alvarado spoke of the importance of diversifying the Latinx narratives beyond the classics we know and love. She also stressed the importance of understanding and believing in multiple truths and perspectives in your writing. As a group, we discussed the diversifying Latino community in the Bronx, questions surrounding belonging, migration, and identity as it relates to your place of origin all surfaced. Program adviser and Bronx Writers Center Director Charlie Vázquez facilitated the discussion.

The event culminated with several attendees sharing the poem they wrote in ten minutes. Our charge was to write in response to the word: rumors.  This kind of programming is vital and necessary for building community and compassion for our experiences as first and second-generation Latinxs. I walked away from this evening with a new poem, and renewed esteem for my own broken and beautiful diaspora story. See below for what poured out after I heard the word rumor:


mira, ahi va la hija de Manuel, la pata. 
what a pitty, she's so pretty.

where are you from?
where are you from? 
where are you from?
Depends on where I am. 

You never asked me
if you had, I would have said
the rumors are true. 

I like her, I like him
would you like to be liked, too?

by a gender fluid necia
que por mas veces que la mandan a
Santo Domingo,
no se endereza.


Naiomy Guerrero