Rhina Espaillat

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Rhina P. Espaillat has published ten full-length books and three chapbooks, comprising poetry, essays, and short stories, in both English and her native Spanish, and translations from and into both languages. Her work appears in many journals, anthologies, and websites, and has earned national and international awards, including the T. S. Eliot Prize in Poetry, the Richard Wilbur Award, the Howard Nemerov Prize, the May Sarton Award, the Robert Frost “Tree at My Window” Prize for translation, several honors from the New England Poetry Club, the Poetry Society of America, the Ministry of Culture of the Dominican Republic, and a Lifetime Achievement Award from Salem State College. Espaillat’s most recent publications are two poetry collection in English titled Playing at Stillness and Her Place in These Designs; a book of Spanish translations titled Oscura fruta/Dark Berries: Forty-Two Poems by Richard Wilbur; and a book of Spanish translations titled Algo hay que no es amigo de los muros/Something There Is That Doesn’t Love a Wall: Forty Poems by Robert Frost. She is a frequent reader, speaker and workshop leader, and is active with the Powow River Poets, a literary group she cofounded in 1992.  Source

Bilingual / Biling├╝e

My father liked them separate, one there,  

one here (allá y aquí), as if aware 

 

that words might cut in two his daughter’s heart  

(el corazón) and lock the alien part 

 

to what he was—his memory, his name  

(su nombre)—with a key he could not claim. 

 

“English outside this door, Spanish inside,”  

he said, “y basta.” But who can divide 

 

the world, the word (mundo y palabra) from  

any child? I knew how to be dumb 

 

and stubborn (testaruda); late, in bed,  

I hoarded secret syllables I read 

 

until my tongue (mi lengua) learned to run  

where his stumbled. And still the heart was one. 

 

I like to think he knew that, even when,  

proud (orgulloso) of his daughter’s pen, 

 

he stood outside mis versos, half in fear  

of words he loved but wanted not to hear.

Published:

1998

Length:

Regular

Literary Movements:

Children's

Anthology Years:

2022

Themes:

Ars Poetica

Bilingual

Education & Learning

Family

Literary Devices:

Antanaclasis

The repetition of a word within a phrase, in which the second use of the word utilizes a different and sometimes contrary meaning from the first.

Couplets

two lines of verse, usually in the same meter and joined by rhyme, that form a unit

End Rhyme

when a poem has lines ending with words that sound the same

Metaphor

a comparison between two unrelated things through a shared characteristic

Personification

the attribution of human qualities to a non-human thing