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Linguistic rights
1 min read

In America

Writers all over the world are today subjected to daily threats for practicing their basic human rights to freely express what they want in whichever language they choose. During her term of office, Jennifer Clement, Mexican-American writer and since 2015 President of PEN International, has focused on and lifted PEN’s efforts to promote linguistic rights by stating that language diversity is a world cultural heritage that must be duly acknowledged and protected: “Our languages are empires,” she writes in the poem “In America,” published here below.

Credits Text: Jennifer Clement November 08 2019

How do I walk among twenty-seven letters
of the Spanish alphabet
among hollows of a, b, c,
between tombstones of R and P
and where the letter ñ has a halo?
Do I wear a long dress?

As I am in your poem,
as you wrote about me, my love,
I want to know what should I wear?
Is it cold in your poem?

I left my shoes outside
the page.
I speak in English
under the shade of T,
touch x, y, z.
and walk left to right
across the deck of your poem.
Each line break
is the edge of the flat world
in America.

Our languages are empires.
So who will be the conqueror?
The man who wrote the poem
or the woman inside?
My English delivers to your Spanish:
salutes, congratulates,
presents arms.

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