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20 pages 40 minutes read

Elizabeth Acevedo

Afro-Latina

Fiction | Poem | Adult | Published in 2015

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Literary Devices

Form and Meter

“Afro-Latina” is a spoken-word poem—as such, it is both a text and a performance. The poem presents several conventions of spoken-word poetry and especially slam poetry, including a first-person speaker, relatively short lines, and language that is both euphonic and highly rhythmic. Contemporary spoken-word poetry circulates through live performances and videos, so gestures and intonation (the rise and fall of the voice) are also important formal elements.

The poem is also in free verse, and instead of relying on defined stanzaic or metrical patterns, Acevedo structures the poem thematically and uses rhyme and other devices occasionally as emphasis. For example, Lines 1-11 are a celebration of the Afro-Latina as a figure in popular culture, particularly music. Short lines like “anywhere she go / como” (Lines 4-5), with the strong pauses at the end of each line and the repetition of those “o” sounds, create an off-kilter rhythm. That rhythm, which brings the reader up short just before the Celia Cruz lyric, is a nod to Afro-Caribbean musical traditions that rely on such rhythms in the drum section, especially of drums like the conga or tumbao.

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