30 Days of Poetry Love – Rita Dove

National Poetry Month Logo

Credit image: National Poetry Month logo/Poets.org

Happy eleventh day of poetry month!

As you know, this week’s poetess is Rita Dove. And the poem I’m sharing with you today was inspired by a bloody history against immigrants. It’s a timeless poem as our country and many others try to deal with immigrants. But in the poem’s case, the method used to deal with the immigrants was a massacre.

In 1937, Dominican Republic dictator Rafael Trujillo’s henchmen, in an ethnic cleansing, killed its Haitian immigrant. And to distinguish between their Afro brethren they conducted a simple test. If the person can roll their “r” when they said the Spanish word for parsley, they were free to go. If they could not…

Makes me think. Today, we’re demanding for a wall. Tomorrow, then what?

You can learn more about the Parsley Massacre at NPR.org.

Read the full poem on PoetryFoundation.com

PS And don’t forget to check out yesterday’s poetry interview with debut poetess Maheen Ahmed.

Rita Dove “Parsley”


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