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About this poet

Sandra María Esteves was born and raised in the Bronx, New York. She is the author of Bluestown Mockinbird Mambo (Arte Publico Press, 1990) and Yerba Buena (Greenfield Review, 1980). A member of the Nuyorican movement, Esteves is a founding poet of the Nuyorican Poets Cafe and the former executive director of the African Caribbean Poetry Theater. She received a poetry fellowship from the New York Foundation for the Arts in 1985. She has served as a teaching artist for over thirty years and has conducted literary programs for the Bronx Council on the Arts, El Museo del Barrio, and the New York City Board of Education, among other educational institutions. She lives in the Bronx.

Puerto Rican Discovery #3: Not Neither

Being Puertorriqueña-Dominicana
Borinqueña-Quisqueyana
Taina-Africana
Born in the Bronx. Not really jíbara
Not really hablando bien
But yet, not gringa either
Pero ni portorra
Pero sí, portorra too
Pero ni qué what am I? Y qué 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 como somos–bueno,
Eso sí 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 Puertorriqueña cómo ella
Giving blood to the independent star
Daily transfusions
Into the river
Of la sangre viva.

Copyright © 1984 by Sandra María Esteves. Used with the permission of the author.

Copyright © 1984 by Sandra María Esteves. Used with the permission of the author.

Sandra María Esteves

Sandra María Esteves

Sandra María Esteves is the author of Bluestown Mockinbird Mambo (Arte Publico Press, 1990) and Yerba Buena (Greenfield Review, 1980). A member of the Nuyorican movement, she lives in the Bronx.

by this poet

poem

Nina Simone, Celia Cruz, Billie Holiday, and Bessie
were all sistas growin’ up,
keepin’ her company through only-child-blues.
Afternoons spent laughin’, cryin’, dancin’ motown gold,
harmonizin’ are-’n-be teen sweet melodies.

Aretha Franklin, La Lupe, Diana and the Supremes
stayed up

poem

Believe in yourself.
Be all that you can.
Look for your fate among the stars.
Imagine you are your best when being yourself
the best way you can.

Believe in yourself. Be all you want to be.
Open your mind, a window to the world,
different ways of thinking, seeing,
but be

poem

for Lela

Half blue, feet first
she battled into the world.
Hardly surviving the blood cord twice wrapped,
tense around her neck. Hanging.
Womb pressing, pushing,
pulling life from mother’s child.
Fragil flesh emerging perfect in blueness,
like the lifeline that