through Nicole rodriguez, Editor-in-chief
On Thursday, October 7, students and faculty filled the seats at Hayden 100 for a bilingual poetry reading and conversation with Puerto Rican poet Nicole Cecilia Delgado. The event sponsored by Student Engagement, the Multicultural Center, Fuerza Latina and the Critical Race and Ethnic Studies Program, addressed issues related to art, book creation, poetry, activism and resistance in contemporary Puerto Rico.
English teacher and fellow Puerto Rican Cristina Pérez Jiménez, Ph.D. opened the event with an elaborate and informative introduction from Delgado. She also shed light on the current context of Puerto Rico in terms of coloniality and austerity so that listeners can better understand the purpose of Delgado’s work.
After Pérez Jiménez’s introduction, Delgado read excerpts from his poetry book Periodo Especial and an essay, A Mano / By Hand in his native Spanish language. To assist unilingual English speakers, screenings of English translations of Delgado’s work were displayed.
“For those of you who are unilingual English speakers, I want to not think about what you don’t understand or what you miss,” said Pérez Jiménez. “Really think of this as an opportunity for a kind of respect and understanding of the experience of linguistic difference. “
Delgado’s poetry articulates many of the issues and concerns that have punctuated the life of Puerto Ricans over the past decade, in particular the island’s economic collapse, the period of neoliberal scarcity and austerity, and the colonial relations that have made its economic dependence on the United States.
Although Delgado’s work deals with such serious and heavy topics, it has become clear during her reading that she has a way of effortlessly captivating audiences with her wit and pun.
“Nicole is also a reverent and provocative,” said Pérez Jiménez. “She manages to convey a liberating humor in her work, a kind of surprising and delicious lightness derived from her pointed and playful observations on the many paradoxes, ironies and disjunction of life under colonialism. Linked to this humor, his work also gives us a powerful vision and language to move forward.
Not only is Delgado widely regarded as one of the leading Puerto Rican poets of her generation, but she is also a translator and literary artist. Additionally, she is the founder of La Impresora, an editorial studio in Puerto Rico specializing in small-scale independent publishing – a remarkable achievement given that Puerto Rico no longer has a large corporate press.
Poet Urayoán Noel, who is also one of his translators, described Delgado’s work with equally high respect.
“Much of Delgado’s work, both as a poet and as an editor, involves imagining alternative lifestyles: ecologies and economies of poetry rooted in the interpersonal, the collaborative, the open and the non-hierarchical, ”Noel said. .
Delgado’s work as a poet and editor is so influential and impactful that she actively takes responsibility for unveiling the hidden history of Puerto Rico.
“I think the times are calling for political work,” Delgado said.
“Puerto Rico being a colony, I think the story has been taken away from us and it’s difficult, or sometimes it’s been forbidden in the story to tell the story as it really happened. I think the poets have taken on this responsibility of telling the story as it happens, like, under the sheets, or under the bed of the official story.
Asked what inspires her work, Delgado brilliantly answered la vida cotidiana, or everyday life.
“I think in the same way that poetry can be very sacred, it is also present in everyday life and in very simple things,” Delgado said.
“I try to research this simple language. Whenever you can access deeper meanings using plain language, I think I’ve achieved what I want to do with poetry. “