by Charlie Vázquez
Conversations with My Skin (Robles-Alvarado, 2011)
By Peggy Robles-Alvarado
I first saw the talented poetess Peggy Robles-Alvarado read at a group reading produced by the New York City Latina Writers Group in 2010. Conversations with My Skin is her debut publication of powerful and moving words and feelings; an honest and brutal look in the mirror, where abuses of the past are confronted, castigated and destroyed—in order for full transformation and healing to take place. There are many poems that will make your heart sink in this collection, but one that moved me in particular is titled “To Mrs. Firsenbaum” and contains the following lines:
“Thank you for continuously asking about my cuts and bruises
And not accepting any of my excuses as truth
Thank you for alerting security and barring him from the
Property so that school could be my safe haven
Thank you for being my advocate when teen pregnancy became
Punishable and merited expulsion for the gifted and talented
Thank you for insisting that I hand in my college applications
Before the deadline, despite my due date…”
This new and young poet shows a lot of promise and I hope that she continues to write both for herself and for so many others who experience the ups and downs of life and do not have the courage and/or drive to document and publish those experiences. Conversations with My Skin explores a myriad of disappointments and tragedies, but ultimately it’s a triumph because embracing truth—no matter how brutal and oppressive it can be, and it can be—is the only way to learn and move forward. On a hopeful note, the title poem contains the following declaration and war cry:
“Refusing to be the eternally afflicted
Victory! Over the catastrophe you caused
Victory! Over your personified poison
Victory! Over the cataclysm of your existence
I refuse to fall and not get up”
One of the upsides during this uncertain era of publishing industry turmoil is that more and more writers are sidestepping traditional publishing procedures and putting that power in their own hands. Not only has Peggy’s perseverance, enlightenment, and education brought her to a new place in life (as her poetry clearly illustrates for itself), the decision to publish this book is yet another feather in the cap of empowerment, another bullet in the heart of her onetime demons now defeated.
All Rights Reserved, Copyright 2011, Peggy Robles-Alvarado
To purchase Conversations with My Skin, go here.
To learn more about Charlie, visit Fire King Press.
Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are solely those
of the author and should not be understood to be shared by Being Latino, Inc.