Poetry-lovers at St. Mary’s were treated to the work of Washington, D.C.-based poet Carlos Parada Ayala at the first VOICES Reading of the year on Thurs., Sept 19. Parada Ayala, who is originally from El Salvador, composes his poems in both Spanish and English. His first book of poetry, entitled La Luz de la Tormenta (The Light of the Storm), was recently released by Zozobra Publishing, a new bilingual publishing press founded by José Ballesteros, a St. Mary’s Associate Professor of Spanish.
The poems read by Parada Ayala dealt with themes of cultural identity, immigration, and existential frustration. The soft-spoken poet himself said that he tries to invoke “a concern for beauty, charm, and creativity, but at the same time dealing with the hard reality of social injustice within the world.”
A highlight of the reading was when Parada Ayala read his poem “Chirilagua Blues” in its original Spanish. The poem, which is described from the perspective of a Salvadorean immigrant, featured such witty lyricisms as (in English) “One day I was deported / I snuck back, it was damn hard. / I came undocumented, / Now I have my own green card.” Parada Ayala also treated his audience to one of his unpublished poems (edited out by Ballesteros), which was influenced by the rhythms of reggaeton music, which combines Latin and Caribbean musical styles. The audience snapped (rather than “clapped”) for more.