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On Inviting Poems In. Daily language is concerned with the surface of things, the reduction of the world to useful pieces that we can handle easily. Poems, on the other hand, take a second look, see the cracks in what we agree to believe is smooth, and drop in to tell us about those cracks. A poem may tell you a great deal worth hearing by inviting you out of yourself and into somebody else’s world, some other mind. Such a poem may lead you back into your own life and show you a new self by placing you in that unfamiliar spot and asking you to be, to think, or feel something new.

It may also show you something about your old familiar self you had not discovered—or faced—before.

Rhina P. Espaillat was born in the Dominican Republic in 1932, and has lived in the U. S. since 1939. She taught high school English in New York City for many years, and writes poetry in both English and in her native Spanish. Her work has appeared in numerous magazines, including "The Lyric," "Poetry," "The Formalist," and "The American Scholar," as well as in some two dozen anthologies, including An Introduction to Poetry (Tenth Edition, 2002); The Heath Introduction to Poetry (Sixth Edition, 2000); The Muse Strikes Back (Story Line Press, 1997); In Other Words: Literature by Latinas of the U.S. (Arte Publico Press, 1994).

Espaillat has three poetry collections in print: Lapsing to Grace (Bennett & Kitchel, 1992), Where Horizons Go (Truman State University Press, 1998), winner of the 1998 T. S. Eliot Prize, and Rehearsing Absence (University of Evansville Press, 2001). She is also the author of the bilingual chapbook, "Mundo y Palabra/The World and the Word" (Oyster River Press, 2001). Since 1990 she has lived in Newburyport, Massachusetts, where she coordinates the Newburyport Art Association Annual Poetry Contest, directs the Powow River Poets and organizes PRP's monthly poetry reading series. She is a frequent reader, speaker and workshop director at various schools, colleges, and cultural institutions. Her books are available at bookstores, libraries, and through