Rafael Trujillo is a name long forgotten today, but he ruled the Dominican Republic as dictator for more than three decades, from 1930 to 1961. His was a bloody, vicious regime, and he exported violence to Haiti, Venezuela, Mexico, and even the United States via assassinations of his political enemies. Two years into his rule, Rhina Espaillat was born (1932), A few short years later, her great-uncle opposed the regime, and the entire family was exiled. They settled in New York City.
Espaillat began writing poetry as a young girl, and she wrote in both Spanish and English. She’s still writing today poetry today, and her most recent collection is And After All: Poems. Nothing in the work indicates a connection to Trujillo, but one can’t help but think that the experiences of life under a dictator followed by exile can’t help but affect what a poet writes, including a focus on what’s inside as opposed to what’s visible for all to see.
To continue reading, please see my post today at Tweetspeak Poetry.