This article explores the emergence of Central American-American discursive and performance poetic art that, written bilingually and occasionally incorporating Portuguese or an indigenous language, has been present in the United States since the mid-1980s, but bloomed in the first decade of the twenty-first century. It analyzes three of the poems in the EpiCentro anthology — by Gustavo Guerra Vásquez, Karina Alvarado, and Marlon Morales — that have in common multiple and ongoing negotiations and renegotiations of identity, compounding a fusionary process that problematizes traditional identities associated with Latinoness and questions the stability of this very concept, changing in the process fundamental assumptions about the field. It also explores the work and impact of Maya Chinchilla, one of the founders of the group and editor of the anthology. The article attempts to place the anthology within what Aníbal Quijano has called the “coloniality of power,” a term deployed to move thinking beyond Western and Eurocentric conceptualizations. This approach provides a new way of framing the issues of cultural production and agency in order to transcend identities originally associated with any given Latin American nation-state. It is a reminder that we need to seek alternative epistemologies that encompass newer approaches to our understanding of the flux of Latin American diasporas to and within the U.S. We can no longer conceive of Latinidad as a trope under which hyphenated nationalities seek refuge, in a side-by-side nature, from the racist storm of white Christian fundamentalism, without losing their singular self-defining traits.
Arturo Arias; EpiCentro: The Emergence of a New Central American-American Literature. Comparative Literature 1 September 2012; 64 (3): 300–315. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/00104124-1672961
Download citation file: