Central American Poetry Evening: 2 x 2

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On Wednesday, April 21, 4 renowned Central American women poets, 2 ASL interpreters, 1 graduate class, and over 70 enthusiastic poetry lovers gathered to share in the evening called, ‘2 x 2: A Gathering of US Central American poets: Maya Chinchilla, Leticia Hernández-Linares, Jenise Miller, and Janel Pineda.” Organized by 1 professor, Dr. Ana Patricia Rodríguez, the evening of poetry was powerful, impactful, and well received by everyone. Students in Dr. Rodríguez’s SPAN798N Central American / Latinx Transnational Feminisms introduced the poets and later engaged with them via questions they had for the artists. 


“Two by two” is a specific term that, “refers to the multiple ways US Central American poets enter hemispheric conversations, often one by one, sometimes two by two, but always adding to the mix and amplifying our voices exponentially.”


Some poems spoke of difference, others of resilience, all spoke to the strength and beauty of the Central American diaspora in the US. Not only were these poems accessible to Spanish and English speakers, but also to those who use ASL interpretation. The level of inclusivity is unprecedented in SLLC events. The interpreters remarked how well the event was organized and it showed in all aspects of the event.


Maya Chinchilla brought sass and insight with poetry coming from her first book, The Cha Cha Files: A Chapina Poética. Her publisher writes of her book, “Part memory, part imaginary, The Cha Cha Files honors Central American feministas, Long Beach roqueras, families divided by war, lovers separated by borders, and celebrates the pleasure and heartbreak of femmes, machas, y mariconadas.” Chinchilla offered this and so much more during her time. 


A popular poem was Jenise Miller’s “My Mother hid her accent” from her chapbook The Blvd in which the narrator describes a mother who tried to conceal her accent to the world in order to fit in, but when it came to giving her daughter a name, it was the only word she spoke with her native accent, and proudly. 


Janel Pineda read from her most recent publication, Lineage of Rain, where her poem, “How English Came to Grandma” describes a woman so “bewitched” by Beatles songs that she moves to the US to live her dreams. For Grandma, the English language was synonymous with America and the American Dream. 


Leticia Hernández-Linares, author of Mucha Muchacha, Too Much Girl, rounded out the evening of poetry with her unique blend of spoken word poetry and singing. She even brought the audience into her home by telling her kids to play elsewhere as she was reading poetry. It truly created an intimate moment through the Zoom screen.


Twitter was the place to be after the evening as the artists received glowing reviews from audience members. The artists can be found on Twitter under the following handles, Maya Chinchilla as @chachachapina, Leticia Hernández-Linares as @joinleticia, Jenise Miller as @janisepalante and Janel Pineda as @Pineda_Janel “2 x 2” was so well received that everyone is already looking forward to the next evening.