American Book Award Essays

Poetry Analysis

Lorna Dee Cervantes’ poem, “Poema para los Californios Muertos” (“Poem for the Dead Californios”), is a commentary on what happened to the original inhabitants of California when California was still Mexico, and an address to the speaker’s dead ancestors. Utilizing a unique dynamic, consistently alternating between Spanish and English, Cervantes accurately represents the fear, hatred, and humility experienced by the “Californios” through rhythm, arrangement, tone, and most importantly, through use of language. Many times readers do not grasp a strong…

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