[ white savior ]
MANHATTAN, NY—At the New SanctuaryCoalition, this morning, I had never heard ofthe poet Roque Dalton. I saw a small tattooon the arm of the young man I thought wasa gangster.
I’m not wrong to think this, some ofthe ones whose paperwork I help translatehave been. “It’s my country’s best poet,” theteenager said.
I was surprised to know he knew poetry,or loved it enough to get a tattoo. “Los eternosindocumentados,” it read.
As if he knew. As if he was ready for whatcould be his future in this country. As if heknew he would soon need my help.
Javier Zamora was born in El Salvador and migrated to theUnited States when he was nine. He was a 2018–2019 RadcliffeInstitute Fellow at Harvard and has been granted fellowshipsfrom CantoMundo, Colgate University, the Lannan Foundation, the National Endowment for the Arts, the Poetry Foundation, and Stanford University. Unaccompanied (Copper CanyonPress, 2017) is his first collection. He lives in Harlem, where he’sworking on a memoir. More info at javierzamora.net.