National Poetry Month Spotlight: Dr. Rossy Lima, Islander Faculty, Award-Winning Poet

CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas – April is National Poetry Month, a celebration that commemorates poets and their craft.

Award-winning poet Dr. Rossy Lima has made her mark in and out of the classroom as the translation certification coordinator within the Spanish department at Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi. Lima, a Mexican American poet, activist, and educator first arrived at the Island University in fall 2020, amid the backdrop of virtual instruction and a community in lockdown due to COVID-19.

“Even though it was a difficult time for everyone, fellow faculty made me feel right at home,” Lima recalled.

Lima’s work has been published in journals, magazines, and anthologies in various languages in over a dozen countries. She has also published three poetry collections and two children’s books. As a translator, she has translated multiple works for Penguin Random House and Arte Público Press. Additionally, PBS featured her life story nationally on the iNation Media documentary series, Waking Dream. Her award are numerous, both nationally and internationally.

"La ciudad del inmigrante" by Rossy Evelin Lima (Poem #5)

This poem (from "Aguacamino/Waterpath" published by Mouthfeel Press, 2015) was recorded at Floreciendo Resistencia en el Valle / Flourishing Resistance in the Valley, April 23, 2017, Hidalgo, TX by the Resistencia en la frontera: Poets Against Border Walls Collective. #PoetsAgainstWalls.

Recently in Washington, D.C., three poems from her 2017 collection “Migrare Mutare,” were part of a new song cycle by rising composer Reinaldo Moya that were sung by soprano Elena Villalón. The compositions premiered in mid-March at Villalón’s concert at the world-famous Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts.

It was a particularly transcendent moment for Lima, who was in the audience at the concert.

“Hearing Spanish at the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts was the greatest gift of all,” Lima said. “I write about the experiences of a community that oftentimes is not heard. I write about difficult experiences that tend to be forgotten. Having them sung in the language they were created established a beautiful precedent: Our voice, our language, has an unsurmountable value in this country.”

The poems in “Migrare Mutare” focus on a journey through the experiences of migration in literal and metaphorical terms. Moya selected the poems “Serpiente,” “Mariposa,” and “Si Hay Futuro” (Serpent, Butterfly, and If There is a Future).

Juan Felipe Herrera, the first Mexican American Poet Laureate of the United States, offered praise for “Migrare Mutare.”

"Rossy Lima offers us a migration and migrant metaphysics – perhaps in the timbres of a border mermaid. Lima is a lyrical warrior crossing,” Herrera said.

During her first semester at the Island University, Lima became a part of the planning committee for the People’s Poetry Festival, which is led by Dr. Robin Carstensen, TAMU-CC Associate Professor of English, and Thomas Murphy, TAMU-CC Assistant Professional Professor of English and 2021-2022 Corpus Christi Poet Laureate. The committee gave her the opportunity to connect with the university’s poetry community as well as Corpus Christi’s poetry scene.

In the classroom, Lima said she uses literature by Latinx writers to connect students to the cultural relevance of the subject. In one of her classes, Islander students translated two children’s books by Latinx authors who discussed cultural heritage and read those to children at the Antonio E. Garcia Arts and Education Center.

In her Introduction to Translation class this semester, Lima organized a learning experience with students who are enrolled in Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México (UNAM), one of the most prestigious universities in Mexico.

“Students in my class talked for an hour with UNAM students, using English for 30 minutes and Spanish for 30 minutes,” Lima said. “They discussed classroom topics and cultural topics of interest, which is a great way to prepare our students to be culturally inclusive.”  

Islander Spanish major Letty Guval-DeLuna ’22 admitted that she thought the Spanish program would be a breeze since Spanish is her first language. That didn’t turn out to be the case.

“I was raised in Nuevo León, Mexico, and lived there for 18 years,” Guval-DeLuna said. “I knew more than enough Spanish to do very well, or so I thought. Well, that was not so! I have learned so much from Dr. Lima – she has helped me develop my grammar and translation skills. She has been an inspiration to me and many others because she is a fighter, she works very hard, she is so professional, and her style of teaching helps us learn so much.”

Guval-DeLuna said she was thrilled to hear about Lima’s recent successes.

“Dr. Lima is such a beautiful person inside and out,” Guval-DeLuna said. “She also has an amazing gift to write and to speak publicly. I feel so blessed and proud to be her student.”  

“The Everliving/Las Siemprevivas,” Lima’s newest poetry book, will be published in summer 2022 by Nueva York Poetry Press. She is also working on a new poetry collection which will be finished later this year.