U.S. Latino Poets use English and Spanish interchangeably in their work; this is commonly referred to as code-switching; and, it means that when U.S. Latino Poets decide to use Spanish in their verse, they are wittingly excluding all their readers that don’t understand Spanish. For example, Lorna Dee Cervantes’ book, Emplumada, requires that readers know the noun “pluma” which means feather in Spanish. While this stylistic choice might seem divisive and ethnically chauvinistic, code-switching stands as a literal representation of their bilingual identity. But, if U.S. Poetry is to remain integral through its use of Standard American English, then the work of U.S. Latino Poets seems like a drive-by bastardization of our national language. U.S. Latino Poetry stands in opposition to lingual assimilation because it asks its readers that don’t understand Spanish to fill in the gaps and root around for definitions of Spanish words.
U.S. Latino Poetry is eminently pluralistic, engendering a cultural curiosity and respect that exists in most multicultural societies. It is also singularly sonorous and complex as it stands as an artifact of two distinct languages and cultures. Perhaps the most interesting thing about U.S. Latino Poetry is that it is either a record of the degeneration of Standard American English, or the prototype for a new American dialect, like Spanglish. Regardless, as Latinos poise themselves to become the largest minority group in the U.S., the fate of U.S. Latino Poety looms large. And if you take into consideration that Latinos are garnering gains in education, the production, creation, and teaching of U.S. Latino Poetry does not seem destined to abate any time soon.
A Spanglish blog dedicated to the works, ruminations, and mongrel pyrotechnics of Yago S. Cura, an Argentine-American poet, translator, publisher & futbol cretin. Yago publishes Hinchas de Poesia, an online literary journal, & is the sole proprietor of Hinchas Press.