Where You From?

As we continue to work on our Where I’m From poems, I continue to look for examples to share to spark students’ creativity.  Fortunately, there are many poems out there that fall into this category.  I found a lovely one in Cool Salsa:

Where You From?
by Gina Valdés

Soy de aquí
y soy de allá
from here
and from there
born in L.A.
del otro lado
y de éste
crecí en L.A.
y en Ensenada
my mouth
still tastes
of naranjas
con chile
soy del sur
y del norte
crecí zurda
y norteada
cruzando fron
teras crossing
San Andreas
Y mareada
where you from?
soy de aquí
y soy de allá
I didn’t build
this border
that halts me
the word fron
tera splits
on my tongue

I can’t wait to share this one with my students.  I love “cruzando fron/teras crossing” it wraps so nicely.  And, of course, “I didn’t build/this border/that halts me/the word fron/tera splits/on my tongue.”  Nice.

16 thoughts on “Where You From?

  1. Mike Omer

    Beautiful poem, poema bello. It jumps out at you, it has life of its own. It moves, it tells, it bites. Esta bueno y gracias por ponerlo en el web.


  2. The play of three against four, dropping the pentameter typical of English; emphasis on the gaps between Spanish and English really are biting. There is not only a barrier here, but also a chasm she wants to bridge.


  3. No soy latina, pero enseño tres clases de latinos. Usé este poema recientemente. Me dió piel de gallina, tan hermoso el poema. Me hace sentir triste el conocimiento que algunos de mis estudiantes tienen problemas por causa de la fron tera.


    1. Yo siento lo mismo, no sólo por la gente Latinx, sino por todos los que han cruzado una frontera para venir aquí y que se enfrentan a la discriminación por causa de su diferencia.


    1. My understanding is also that it means “left handed.” You would have to ask the author about how she intended it to be read. I read it as almost a play on the semi-similarity of “sur” and “zurda,” that she is equating the two as being the simple facts of who she is.


  4. Pingback: Who is Gina Valdés? – American Ethnic Literature Hypertext

  5. Pingback: #Women2Watch: 5 Poems By Powerful Latina Writers

    1. Hi, Raniyah — What did you find confusing about the way she is talking about where she’s from? Is it the super-short lines, or the switching back and forth from English to Spanish, or something else? I’d love to hear more of what you are thinking. Thanks for visiting my bog to read Valdes’ poem! 🙂


  6. It is so inspiring to see nine years of reactions to this poem! I first read this poem more than 20 years ago, and it still has the same freshness, immediacy, and relevance it had when I read it the first time. The issues it discusses aren’t resolved; if anything, they are more prominent — the way the border looms in our lives, young kids being sent to cross the border alone, the kids who grow up with that double consciousness.

    Liked by 1 person

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