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Poets of the Metropolis: Battered Bilinguals

By Tim Hazell

Mango, Kiwi, Corn and Black Bean Salad

Modern poetry is a mirror of a relativistic world and assumes many shapes to reflect a multiplicity of human images. Art is essentially a shaping, making visible or embodying process. In a world of turbulence, equilibrium and repose, we use the word ‘plastic’ in relation to art’s broad spectrum because it denotes the method of fashioning — of bringing into being. Wars, revolutions, social upheavals, displacement of peoples, computers and automation have changed the pace of our lives. We have more and more difficulty in keeping up with our own development.

Poets of the metropolis realize that discontinuity is more familiar than continuity and discord more usual than agreement. Urbanism in third-world countries and in Latino societies is occurring very rapidly and displays the distinctive characteristics of unchecked development throughout the world. These include the loss of primary (kin) relationships, weaker social control, greater credence accorded to the mass media, and a tendency for desensitized populations to display apathy and indifference to each other and the environment. The young generation of poets of the virtual barrios are writing themselves out of their predicament and legitimizing the vernacular of their neighborhoods.

Competition between different countries with their distinct cultures and forms of expression in the liberal arts can result in forms of cosmopolitanism. Cosmopolitanism is the outcome of those experiments and discoveries which, from the beginning of the 20th century and beyond, have led to a profound reevaluation of established values. Individual expression in major urban centers tends to lose its integrity in favor of a generalized international melting pot. Artists flock to cities to find inspiration and have their work recognized, and the dominant style of a period emerges. In the face of loss of individual expression and the influence of the media to adopt a lifestyle that is essentially a stereotype, poets of today insist on absolute freedom of creativity. If we in turn give the poet the liberty to question inflexible principles, we open doors to future opportunities for empowerment and creative innovation.

Olga Angelina Garcia Echeverría is a Chicana poet and self-professed “battered bilingual” who uses poetry to portray a politicized identity:


“Aqui el inglés trips over itself Y el español comes down off its high Spanish horse…Watchala it rides the bus, eats chile-spiced mangos and elotes smothered in mayonesa…”


This sassy, satisfying Chicano-influenced fruit, veggie, and bean combo is ablaze with local color!


Mango, Kiwi, and Black Bean Salad


1/2 medium red onion, small dice

1 mango, peeled and diced

2 large Kiwi fruit, peeled and diced

1 Serrano pepper, small dice (seeds included for added heat)

1/3 bunch of coriander, rinsed and roughly chopped

1-15 oz can black beans, drained

1-15 oz can corn, drained

Ripe cherry tomatoes, halved


Juice of 1/2 lime

3 tbsp olive oil

1 tbsp white wine vinegar

Salt and black pepper to taste



Combine ingredients in a large salad bowl. Slowly pour in the lime dressing and toss.


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