Migrations & Other Exiles

Words and Illustrations by Letisia Cruz
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New Poetry by Letisia Cruz

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March 1,  6:30-9:30 pm
Creative Grape, St. Pete

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This collection was many years in the making. Many of the poems in Migrations & Other Exiles began as a simple exploration of my past, and as a way of revisiting and acknowledging the violence of my youth without fear or judgment.

My parents immigrated to the United States when I was a child. A few years later, my father was killed in the hallway of our apartment building in Union City, New Jersey. After his death, my mother remarried into a deeply abusive relationship that nearly ended her life.


These poems are rooted in the violence of those years. They explore minority women’s issues, immigration and exile – and more specifically, my father’s murder, my mother’s experience with domestic violence, and the relationships of my youth.

I did not set out to write about these things, and for years I avoided my past altogether. But in the end, I believe we write what we need to write.

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Bird in Flight

In the spring I’d watch the animal
bash my mother’s head
into the concrete,
her face fluid,
like a bird in flight.

Come summer,
she’d tie her hair up high
and load the station wagon—
baby oil and flip flops
and a bucket for shells.

On the three hour drive to the shore,
she’d hum along
to the shrieks of ravens.
Her favorite part:
the pause for tolls.

In the motel room where
she hung our towels to dry,
the birds were nearly gone.
Their bright red feathers
welcomed us in saying:
you’re late, you’re late.



I ran away and boarded a canoe.
It was like it had been in my dream,
in the middle of a page, with trees
on both sides and a single
fork in the stream.

You erased my arms last night—
You may not remember.
You outlined my neck and stretched it
long across the pillow.
I allowed you to do so.

What must die?
You wanted to know.
I wouldn’t tell you. I had stopped
speaking then. You’d erased my mouth.


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Paloma Sin Plumas

When I was a girl,
my mother would say:

Más sabe el diablo por viejo
que por diablo.

I paid no mind to her then—
wingless bird that she was. 

Más sabe mi pájaro preso,
I thought.
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Kite Strings

Letisia Cruz is a Cuban American writer and artist. She is the author of Migrations & Other Exiles (Lost Horse Press, 2023), which won the 2022 Idaho Prize for Poetry, and The Lost Girls Book of Divination (Tolsun Books, 2018). She is the recipient of a 2022 artist grant from the St. Petersburg Arts Alliance and was selected as a 2022 Dalí Dozen Emerging Artist for her project Rituales: An Exploration of Faith in the Caribbean.

Her writing and artwork have appeared in [PANK], Ninth Letter, The Acentos Review, Gulf Stream, Saw Palm, Third Coast, Duende, Moko and Black Fox Literary Magazine. Her work was selected as a finalist for the 2021 Sexton Prize for Poetry, the 2018 Digging Press Chapbook Series, and the 2016 Gazing Grain Chapbook Contest. She is a graduate of Fairleigh Dickinson University’s MFA program and a member of the Artist Enclave of Historic Kenwood in St. Petersburg.
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Book Release Celebration
March 1 from 6:30 – 9:30 pm
Creative Grape
3100 3rd Avenue North
St Petersburg FL 33713

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