This is the first Spanish/English anthology of Latinx poetry
from the Washington D.C. Metropolitan Area. It features
the work of twenty-four locally, nationally, and internationally recognized poetic voices. The groundbreaking verse of many of these poetas has helped establish D.C.'s powerful and vibrant poetry scene.

Knocking on the Door
of The White House:
Latino and Latina Poets in Washington, D.C. (2001-2009).


Edited by

Luis Alberto Ambroggio

José R. Ballesteros

Carlos Parada Ayala


Translation Editors

Deborah Sobeloff

Burgi Zenhaeusern

Cover Art

Adolfo Gutierrez




ISBN: 978-0-9888090-2-4

Library of Congress Control Number: 2017901446


Soft Cover: $24.95


Zozobra Publishing is proud to present Knocking on the Door of The White House: Latina and Latino Poetry in Washington, D.C., (2001-2009). This anthology is a curated and bilingual edition of Al pie de la Casa Blanca: Poetas Hispanos de Washington, D.C., edited by Luis Alberto Ambroggio and Carlos Parada Ayala and published in 2010 by the Academia Norteamericana de la Lengua Española.


Al pie de la Casa Blanca was a foundational text that sought to collect and celebrate poetry in Spanish by twenty-four important poets that lived in or near the District. As an anthology of specifically Hispanic/Latinx poets, it was a first of its kind—in Spanish or English—for the D.C. area. The publication of that Spanish language anthology made clear to a regional and national readership that Latinx letters were thriving in and around our nation’s capital.


Readers of this edition, Knocking on the Door of The White House, will find the original essays that accompanied the first anthology translated into English as well as work by the twenty-two poets who gave us permission to reprint their original material in both English and Spanish. We have also added the work of D.C. resident Dan Vera, who was not included in the original anthology. In contrast to Al pie de la Casa Blanca, which included between six and ten poems per author, we include two works per poet here to make room for English versions. These poems were vetted by the editors, are representative of the poets’ best work, and often reflect the complexities of living in our region during the turbulent first decade of the 21st century.


The appearance of each poem in this anthology in Spanish and English reflects the intimate bond between the linguistic cultures that characterize the work of the poets in both anthologies. Though Al pie de la Casa Blanca included only poems in Spanish, some were written in English originally and then translated by the authors into Spanish for that publication. So, in a sense, that anthology also celebrated the multilingual diversity of the Latinx poets it included.  For Knocking on the Door of The White House, we’ve decided, in homage to the original publication, to present each poem first in Spanish and then in English. Poems that were penned in both languages by the same poet (either as an original or as a translation) do not include additional information about the translation. Poems that were translated by someone other than the author will include the name of the translator.


The translation of poems into English for Knocking on the Door of The White House required the editing of authors’ self-translations and the coordination of a diverse field of expert translators that included both seasoned and emerging wordsmiths. This task would have been impossible without our English Translation Editors Burgi Zenhaeusern and Deborah Sobeloff.  All of the editors and most of the poets in the anthology have experience translating and are keenly aware of the limitations of translation. These shortcomings are most obvious in poetry, where every lyric sign on the page is essential and unique, and more often than not, does not have a literal equivalent in another language that captures all of the original simultaneous meanings.  We certainly hope that this aspect of the anthology lives up to readers’ expectations and that they are inspired to surpass any translation limitations by reading the original texts.


This leads us to a short final statement about the importance of this publication. Astute bilingual readers will already be considering the difference in the Spanish title (meaning at the foot of The White House) and ours. For us, this new title symbolically underlines both our desire for and recognition of current Latinx empowerment within the U.S. We use here the term Latinx as an inclusive, multi-ethnic, multilingual term that celebrates the rich and diverse identities that make up our community in the U.S. The English title is also symbolic of a new sense of urgency in our commitment to ourselves as a people and as artists, given the challenges that lay ahead as we near the end of the second decade of the current century.


We expect the voices contained in our bilingual anthology to inspire current and future generations of Latinxs to hone their multilingualism in order to make it a tool for personal and community empowerment. For English and Spanish readers alike, we hope it will highlight examples of creative excellence and resilience during trying times.


José R. Ballesteros

Chief Editor

Zozobra Publishing


La luz de la tormenta

The Light of the Storm





ISBN: 978-0-9888090-0-0

Library of Congress Control Number: 2012956424

Editor José R. Ballesteros


Parada Ayala debuts in the world of US-Hispanic letters

with this first book: a clamor in verse about humanity’s current struggles. His writing about the complexities of our lives is explicitly inspired by the best poetry of the Americas while also creating a new voice characterized by intensity and beauty.



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