~ Nationality: Puerto Rico ~

Soy Tierra Desgajandome / I Am Soil Breaking Off by Paloma Sierra

A videopoem exploring Puerto Ricans immigrants’ feelings of belonging and alienation by Pittsburgh-based poet and director Paloma Sierra, animated by L.A. artist Andrew Edwards (click though to view storyboards from the animation). Grants from the City of Asylum and Carnegie Mellon University helped underwrite the production, including music by Dusty Sanders and audio engineering by Sebastian Gutierrez. The English translation in titling is the work of Abigail Salmon.

This is our second post of a Paloma Sierra video. Marie Craven shared Every Word I Say to You back on August 2.

Every Word I Say to You by Paloma Sierra

Every Word I Say to You is a simple yet deeply touching piece by Paloma Sierra, a Puerto Rican writer, translator and film-maker. She describes the video:

The poem is inspired by my family’s experience living with Alzheimer’s. Since my grandmother’s diagnosis in 2015, my father and his siblings have dedicated themselves to ensuring my grandmother receives all the love and care she deserves. This poem is for them, my grandmother, and the many families who are living with Alzheimer’s.

Designer Supawat Vitoorapakorn, in Queensland, Australia, is credited with animation for the video. Music is by US composer, Andrew Abrahamsen.

It received funding from by City of Asylum in Pittsburgh and Carnegie Mellon University, Frank-Ratchye STUDIO for Creative Inquiry.

Aurora’s Aura by Edwin Torres

A film directed by Nicholas Motyka for the Visible Poetry Project, using a text by Edwin Torres. Azume Oe and Stacy Smith play the puppet and puppeteer, respectively, and Rae Nelson is the narrator.

A Julia de Burgos (To Julia de Burgos)

Julia de Burgos‘ poem to her public self (Spanish text here). Leonard Bernstein conducts the Schleswig-Holstein Music Festival Orchestra in a television performance of a work he composed, Songfest, which borrows texts from various American poets. Daisy Newman is the soprano. In a 1986 review of a Deutsche Grammophon recording, Music critic Edward Greenfield wrote,

If I had to choose one work of Bernstein’s for my Desert Island, it would certainly be Songfest, a cycle of 12 American poems which in its sharpness of imagination brings out Bernstein’s finest qualities. Rather like Britten in the Nocturne and the Serenade, he combines musical ingenuity with illuminatingly poetic response to each poem. The result is not just witty and brilliant, as you would expect, but often intensely beautiful and deeply moving, as in the haunting Whitman love poem and the radiant setting for women’s trio of Anne Bradstreet’s poem ”To my dear and loving husband”.

To watch the entire song cycle on YouTube, start here.

I’m not sure which translation they used for the subtitles (perhaps Bernstein’s own?) but a better one, by Jack Agüeros, may be read here.

Ay, Ay, Ay de la Grifa Negra by Julia de Burgos


Poem by Julia de Burgos, translated by Jack Agüeros

I’ve been looking for videos of poems by the great 20th-century Puerto Rican poet and feminist Julia de Burgos in honor of the confinrmation hearings of Sonia Sotomayor, so I was happy to run across this installment from the generally wonderful Favorite Poem Project, featuring bilingual public school teacher Glaisma Perez-Silva.

En la calle San Sebastian by Martín Espada

Poem and reading by Martín Espada

Animation by Kwok Tung Shuen for the Poetry Foundation’s Poetry Everywhere series