Poems by Aleida Rodríguez

Lexicon of Exile




Aleida Rodríguez writes with great patience and a keen eye for the world’s details and rituals, from the names of flowers to the shades of paint on a canvas, and sometimes the fleeting details of dreams, as in a poem that also serves as recipe for risotto: “The key / is fluid, poured by cups and brought to boil // gently, then stirred like passions unexpressed. / More broth softens the stubborn pearls. Add wine. Test.”

Her debut collection, Garden of Exile, has been praised for the scope of the poet’s view: she creates a visual, visceral world where a “lingual bridge lowers into my backyard,” and, after much rumination, “the red-throated hummingbird . . . sweeps all my questions into the single sky.” In the words of the poet Marie Ponsot, she is “so grounded, she freely regards everything (and measures nothing).”

Born in Havana and brought to America at age nine, Rodríguez writes poems that flow resonate with exile, escape, and questions of impossible return. Still, the poet rails against those who would pigeonhole her as “only” a writer of displacement and political strife, and asks readers, “Who says that whining or raging is more legitimate than delighting or loving?” The “fascination of words” mentioned by Marilyn Hacker in her introduction to Garden of Exile and stemming from the poet’s bilingual heritage allows a collusion of the Cuban and American landscapes to embody backyards and barrios of unique beauty. Rodríguez has received fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts and the California Arts Council, has published her work in Ploughshares and The Kenyon Review, and currently lives in Los Angeles.







      Poetry Center Reading:  
    Fall 2007