To the North/Al norte by the Nicaraguan poet León Salvatierra is rooted in the Central American diaspora that emerged from the civil wars in the 1980s. The poems are tied together through the experiences, memories, visions, and dreams of a 15-year-old boy who embarked on a journey to the United States with a group of forty other migrants from Central America. After being undocumented for eleven years, Salvatierra established himself in the United States, first becoming a naturalized citizen and then obtaining a university education.
Salvatierra mixes lyrical and prose poems to explore the experience of exile in a new country. His powerful metaphors and fresh images inhabit spaces fraught with the violence, anxiety, and vulnerability that undocumented Central American migrants commonly face in their transnational journey. His vivid memories of Nicaragua tie the personal experiences of his poetic subjects with the geopolitical history between the Central American region and the United States.
“The poetry here is at once intimate and public, which makes for a complex and rich alchemy. León Salvatierra’s range of registers is breathtaking.”
—Francisco Aragón, poet, editor, director of Letras Latinas at the Institute for Latino Studies, University of Norte Dame, and author of After Rubén
“To the North/Al norte makes poetry feel essential, that without it, Salvatierra’s speakers would become unmoored, losing everything that they have tried so hard to recover. Salvatierra clearly revels in language. . . . This collection is a significant contribution to the growing body of undocumented literature as well as Latinx literature.”
—Maceo Montoya, associate professor, University of California, Davis, author of Preparatory Notes for Future Masterpieces