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September 02 , 2010

Salmos from South Bethlehem

An Advent Memoir


This collection of 20 poems is spoken in the voice of a character named Rosa Celestina Morales, a 17 year old Puerto Rican girl living in South Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, in the early 1970s. Rosa's hopes and dreams, frustrations and torments are expressed in a mix of street talk, self-mumbling, and phrases from familiar prayers in Spanish, imported from the Spanish Mass and the first 20 psalms. The content is drawn from the author's own experiences during the year she lived in Rosa's neighborhood as well as from stories she heard and people she met around the neighborhood. Several of these poems have appeared previously in the New York Quarterly, Cimarron Review, and Woman Song III. This is the first time the set of 20 have been collected in book form. The work is framed as a poetic memoir. A prose introduction by the author and an afterword in Rosa's voice round out the series of poems and project what Rosa's life might have turned to some forty years later.

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