On Poetics, Identity & Latinidad presents a series of conversations exploring diverse aspects of Latina/o poetics with six CantoMundo poets

An excerpt from Rosebud Ben-Oni’s introduction to On Poetics, Identity & Latinidad: CantoMundo poets speak out which collects discussions from contributors Milicent Borges Accardi, Marcelo Hernandez Castillo, Damel Alejandro Holnes, Amy Sayre Baptista, David Tomas Martinez and Ruben Quesada.

When I first applied to CantoMundo, I was worried that my mixed upbringing (my mother being Mexican and my father being Jewish) would automatically “disqualify” me. But the founders embrace the multicultural, multiracial and overall complicated identity that is Latina/o. While I’ve had many influences in my life, I had struggled with the idea of identity, and never had a real writers’ community in which to engage in ideas. After my first CantoMundo retreat, I felt intertwined with a multitude of individuals united by the necessity to grow as poets. I learned that Latina/o poetics, as much as Latina/o identity, does not have to have a singular defining trait, perspective or voice. This was liberating for me as a poet, and the inspiration for this curated conversational series was those hot June days at the 2013 retreat, with temperatures well over 100 degrees, with days that fell into night while the conversations never stopped: they only morphed into new ones.

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