Read the Winning Poems from OPA’s Spanish Language Category

About the poems from judge JM Persanch:

Winning Poems

1 Mi doble voz – Nitza Hernández

The poem speaks to your heart, soul, and mind reuniting, healing a broken self. It imbues the reader in an old trope with a renewed spirit, drawing parallels with Anzaldúa’s ‘wild tongue’ fused with the epic of Corky González. As a result, life and history merge naturally while embellished by a sensible selection of words as well as by a great sense of cadence which resembles that of a passionate lullaby.

2 Canto del náufrago – Germán Rizo

The poem catches the reader as a spider web infused in a nihilistic thread of in crescendo metaphors; making it theatrical, making it real, as truthful as life and death themselves. It reminds us of the futile, disoriented contemporary self to perhaps glimpse into an awakened conciseness.

3 Héroes esenciales – Raúl Sánchez

The poem is needed to render a tribute to the invisible, as it is worth of keeping memories alive. Written with everyday prose the poem parallels the language of those who portrays, providing them a voice to the often times voiceless.

Honorable Mentions

1 Lecciones del río – Broderick Eaton

The poem connects to a long Spanish tradition of the symbolism of water, and particularly rivers, dated back to Jorge Marique’s Coplas a la Muerte de su padre in the fifteenth century. It however offers a vitalist outlook, allowing life to naturally flow through the readers’ eyes, who also embarks to reflect, learn the lessons from their own river.

2 Alabanza a lo que Agradezco – Amelia Diaz Ettinger

The poem attempts to bridge between memories, making the art of poetry worthy as a tool for self-reflection, while offering nature a central stage and forcing the reader into the oxymoron of voiced silences as part of the process of listening.

3 Un rio de sangre – Efrain Diaz-Horna

Poetry is many things, one of them can also encompass—as the poem evidences—a form of self- exploration seeking identity as well as working through to come to personal terms with history to find peace of mind.

Thank you, I have enjoyed serving as a judge. It has always been fascinating to me how poetry survives through the ages cultivating the noble art of shedding light and comfort to those in need. The process somehow reconnected me with my past self, bringing it to my presence to share a few thoughts and memories… I´ll perhaps need to write a note, or poem, to ‘future me.’

Every poet, every poem is–in a sense–unique; know yourself first.

Publishing and being known by others are the anecdote, knowing yourself is the prize.

Winners:

First Prize:  “Mi double voz” – Nitza Hernández

Second Prize: “Canto del náufrago” – Germán Rizo

Third Prize: “Héroes esenciales” – Raúl Sánchez

Honorable Mentions:

First: “Lecciones del rio” – Broderick Eaton

Second: “Alabanza a lo queue Agradezco” – Amelia Diaz Ettinger

Third: “Un rio de sangre” – Efrain Diaz-Horna

JM Persanch is a poet and author of fiction. He was awarded with the first prize in the I Contest of Poetry in Andaluz, directed the literary group Palabras Indiscretas for five years leading to the publication of five collections of poems, and has extensively published in several magazines in Europe, Latin America and the US including the anthologies Moments Before Midnight and Terra Incognita in Oregon. He usually participated in public readings including the Salem Poetry Project. JM Persanch is a writer who appreciates creative forms as a path to both exploring human nature and better understand contemporary societies. For further details as well as for a comprehensive list of projects and publications, see his personal webpage: https://jmpersanch.com.


WINNING POEMS:

Nitza Hernández, “Mi double voz” – Spanish Language, 1st Place

Mi doble voz     

                                    1

Escribo poesía endos lenguas / dos idiomas
mis sentimientos en español son transparent
los acentos y las Ñs corren libres por mis venas,
mis pensamientos en inglés a veces fluyen
como cintas que giran a lo largo de una página rota.

                                    2

Mi lengua materna / Ñ / no vive dentro de mi boca,
más bien respira en medio de mis entrañas
adherida a mi alma reencarnada
desde tiempos y espacios ancestrales. 

La piel de tambores africanos convoca mis caderas
viejas memorias                      de bomba y bongó,
danza de negras esclavas                    con su dolor.

Lágrimas de sangre resuenan con espanto,
maracas y cantos de guasábara gritan en el yucayeque
como lenguas de aguas turbulentas lamiendo el borde de las costas
para enfrentar el genocidio / Agueybaná a la vanguardia
guerreras taínas perspicaces / Anacaona, la Flor de Oro, en mando
el amor de Yuisa la cacica                  por un mulato,
intento fallido de forjar puentes.

¡Perdono a la historia por difamar corazones libres! 

                                    3

Mi lengua materna  / Ñ / es testigo de los crujientes pisos rotos
de osadas carabelas                 en largas travesías por el Atlántico, 
es testigo de sueños enardecidos por la conquista de nuevas tierras.
En mi lengua   también hay huellas de taconeo 
de pioneras españolas aventureras
su pasión vibrante tocando al ritmo de guitarras y castañuelas.

Así pues, mi español es una hermosa amalgama de existencias sonoras
una lengua ondulada de tierra             en medio del mar 
un archipiélago labrado con mil tonos de colores y voces.

                                    4

El inglés / EN  / tampoco vive dentro de mi boca
más bien viaja curioso                    por los bordes de mi espíritu
con ambiguas memorias de tiempos diferentes de conquista
segunda ronda colonial en el Caribe / encubierta / tras bastidores.      

                                    5

Al fin y al cabo / la esencia de mi lengua es                     una doble voz
de múltiples idas y regresos / un intenso aleteo de mi corazón abierto
como colibrí    en vuelo libre             anunciando un nuevo amanecer
haciendo poesía más allá del tiempo / en dos idiomas,
una voz de tierra y sabiduría derramada en los ríos profundos de mi alma.

Nitza Hernández, English Translation

My Two-Fold Voice

                                    1

I write poetry in two tongues / two languages 
my feelings in Spanish are transparent
accents and Ñs run free through my veins
at times my thoughts in English flow
like ribbons spinning along a broken page.

                                    2

My mother tongue / Ñ / does not live inside my mouth,
it rather breathes in the middle of my entrails
attached to my reincarnated soul
from ancient times and spaces.

The skin of African drums summons my hips
old memories              of bomba and bongó
dance of enslaved black women                  with their pain.

Tears of blood resound with horror,
maracas and guasábara songs scream in the yucayeque
like tongues of rough waters lapping the edge of the shores 
to confront the genocide / Agueybaná at the vanguard
keen Taino women warriors / Anacaona, the Golden Flower, in command
the love of cacica Yuisa                     for a mulatto
a failed attempt to build bridges.

I forgive history for defaming free hearts!

                                    3

My mother tongue  / Ñ /  is a witness of the creaking broken floors
of daring caravels                   on long journeys across the Atlantic,
is a witness of burning dreams for the conquest of new lands.
In my tongue   there are also traces of the heel tapping
of Spanish pioneer women                 adventurous   
their vibrant passion playing to the rhythm of castanets and guitars.

Thus, my Spanish is a beautiful blend of sonorous existences 
a curling tongue of land          in the middle of the sea
an archipelago carved with a thousand shades of colors and voices.

                                    4

English / ENG / too does not  live inside my mouth 
instead it travels curiously         along the edges of my spirit
with ambiguous memories of different times of conquest
a second colonial round in the Caribbean 
undercover / behind the scenes.

                                    5

But in the end / the essence of my tongue is a two-fold voice
of multiple departures and returns / an intense flutter of my open heart
like a hummingbird in free flight                   announcing a new dawn
making poetry beyond time / in two languages,
a double tongue of land and wisdom spilled into the deep rivers of my soul.

Nitza M. Hernández López (aka Nitza Hernandez) is a Puerto Rican poet, visual artist/and photographer living in Salem, OR since 2012. Her poems have appeared in /pãn |dé |mïk /2020: An Anthology of Pandemic Poems, Terra Incognita (Bob Hill P), Antologías de Poesía Oregoniana, and lalibreta.online, among other anthologies. She has won poetry award from the Oregon Poetry Association and the Instituto de Cultura Oregoriana. She often reads her poems at the Salem Poetry Project.


Germán Rizo, “Canto del náufrago” – Spanish Language, 2nd Place

Canto del náufrago I

Sin otro dolor que el de sucumbir
frente a ese ruido extraviado
llevando la costumbre
de un animal a tientas.

Quiero salir de ese subyugado cuerpo
ofrecer los escombros a la libertad /
despoblar este destierro fatídico
sin ecos / ni raíces en agonía /
consagrado en la demencia
para no ser el eje de un moribundo
ni volver a ese abismo cercado
en la memoria.

Seguir la entreabierta hendidura
por donde un sollozo gotea
el final de un augurio.

Seguir la sentencia aprisionando
las muecas destinadas a curar el vacío
conteniendo los ardores de la sangre.

Canto del náufrago II

No tengo ideas / no hay espacios
aquí flota la sed
y la lluvia desangra su dolor.

Hay multitud de estallidos
es tarde y me enredo
en el vuelo de los pájaros.

Beso lo siniestro de la niebla.
Ella danza en lo misterioso del Edén
sus manos recogen
las espinas de mi rostro.

No tengo huellas
ninguna sombra
acompaña mi corazón.

Me arrastran los alaridos de un lobo
y tengo miedo.
Los huesos envenenan mi sangre
y me devora la manía del reloj
acosando las paredes.

No hay nadie
y el polvo en el corazón
es un collar de ecos.

Tejo en la pared
la hora de la muerte.

Germán Rizo, English Translation

Castaway chant I

With no other pain than surrendering
before the forlorn clatter
sporting the practice
of a groping animal.

I want to exit that subjugated body
offer the rubble to freedom /
clear out this fateful exile
no echoes / no roots in agony /
enshrined in dementia
so as not to be the axis of a dying man
nor return to the memory of
that fenced abyss

To keep to the half-open cleft
where a howl trickles
the end of a prophecy.
To keep to the sentence imprisoning
the grimaces destined to heal the emptiness
holding the passions of the blood.

Castaway chant II

I have no notions / there are no spaces
thirst floats here
and the rain bleeds her pain.

There are many bursts
it’s late and I become entangle
in the flight of birds flight.

I kiss the sinister side of the mist.
She dances in the mystery of Eden
his hands pick up
the thorns on my face.

I have no footprints
nor a single shadow
shepherds my heart.

The howls of a wolf drag me
and I’m fearful.
The bones poison my blood
and the clock-mania devours me
pestering the walls.

There is no one
and the dust in the heart
is a necklace of echoes.

I weave on the wall
the hour of death.

Germán Rizo Mexican poet and narrator. (1969). He has published: Un pájaro ciego sale de mi boca (2022), Cantos del alma y la vida (2014), Bajo la sombra del corazӧn (2016, Atráeme contigo (2017), Huellas tras lluvia (2020). he participated in the anthology: Equilibrios contrarios, tributo a Federico Garcia Lorca (2015). In the local anthology of the State of Oregon Portland entitled: Anthology of Oregonian Poetry (2018). In the anthology entitled: The Other Voice (20), and in the anthology Flores by Youtan Poluo (2021). He obtained the Second Prise for poetry at the V María Eloísa García Lorca International Competition with the work entitled: Vendra la noche, carried out by the National Union of Writers of Spain. (UNEE). (2017). As well as the third place in the first edition of the literary contest LETRA D’ KMBIO, with the work entitled Que sangren mis manos, in Havana Cuba. (2017). 


Raúl Sánchez, “Héroes esenciaales” – Spanish Language, 3rd Place

Héroes esenciales   

Y un día el mundo se convirtió en una placa de Petri…
La tos de alguien pudo ser una sentencia de muerte.
El aire envenenado, aire vivo, aire peligroso.
Asustados; escuchamos, obedecimos,
nos lavamos las manos; constantemente…
Sonreímos detrás de las máscaras,
distanciados, vivimos en nuestros capullos.
Detrás de puertas y ventanas cerradas.

Nos apartamos de toda persona a menos de dos metros de distancia.
Llenos de pánico recogimos el correo, sacamos la basura.
Escuchamos, nos preocupamos, mientras que otros no lo hicieron.
Algunos de nosotros sobrevivimos, aun así, no pudimos salir.
¡Mágicamente se descubrió una red oculta!
Los trabajadores anónimos e independientes se convirtieron:
¡En esenciales y sin licencia!
¡Un nuevo grupo de héroes, el nacimiento de una nueva generación!

¡El trabajador ordinario se convirtió en un HÉROE!
Una parte esencial de la sociedad.
La misma sociedad que los ve como gente ordinaria,
o indocumentada y sin experiences.
Sin embargo, se volvieron esenciales para todos.
Trabajaron no solo porque necesitaban dinero,
sino porque pudieron hacerlo.
Arriesgando sus propias vidas por todos los demás.

Entregaron comida, cuidaron de nuestros ancianos y discapacitados.
Entregaron paquetes, surtieron los estantes,
hicieron mandados, cambiaron sábanas en los hospitals.
Sus salarios bajos no les impidió trabajar.
Trabajadores esenciales, una designación otorgada
a todos los que lucharon contra el virus.
Superaron sus luchas y miedos y, sin embargo,
algunos de ellos no sobrevivieron.

Los privilegiados experimentaron una cruda “realidad”.
Además de la comida, también hicieron compras pandémicas,
frívolas en el mejor sentido de la palabra para aliviar sus mentes ansiosas.
El trabajador esencial se convirtió en una persona digna
que perdurará como un apodo… representando la unidad,
el sacrificio, la participación, interconexión
y atención sin prejuicios
para todos los americanos. 

Raúl Sánchez, English Translation

Essential Heroes                                                                   

And one day the world became a petri dish—
Someone’s cough could be a death sentence.
Poisoned air, living air, dangerous air.
Scared; we listened, we followed,
we washed our hands, constantly—                                                             
We wore our smile behind the masks,
distanced, we lived in our cocoons.
Behind closed doors, windows shut.

Avoided everyone and anyone within six feet.
Panicked to get the mail, to put out the trash.
We listened, we cared, while others did not.
Some of us survived, yet we could not go outside.
Magically a hidden network was discovered!
Unnamed and independent workers became:
Essential, without a license!
A new brand of heroes, a new generation born.

The ordinary worker became a HERO!
An essential part of society. 
The same society that sees them as ordinary
or undocumented and unskilled.
Yet, they became essential to all.
They worked not only because they needed money, 
but because they could.
Risking their own lives for everyone else.

They delivered food, took care of elders and the disabled
delivered packages, stocked shelves,
ran errands, changed sheets in hospitals.
Their low wages didn’t keep them from working.
Essential workers, a name given to all who fought
against the virus.
They overcame their struggles and fears and yet,
some of them didn’t survive.

The well to do experienced a crude “reality”.
Besides food, they made Pandemic purchases,
frivolous at best to alleviate their anxious minds.
The essential worker became the banner word 
that will endure as a moniker
representing unity, sacrifice, involvement,
interconnection and care without prejudice
for all Americans.

Raúl is the City of Redmond, WA Poet Laureate. He teaches poetry in Spanish through the WITS and Jack Straw Cultural programs. He volunteered for PONGO Teen Writing at the Juvenile Detention Center. His second collection “When There Were No Borders” was released by Flower Song Books, McAllen Texas July 2021.

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