In two languages, Palabristas speak of love and loss


The Palabristas will be slinging words this Friday at the Loft Literary Center in celebration of their new chapbook, Outside the Lines. The event celebrates the voices of a diverse group of Latino poets and spoken word artists tackling topics of love, loss, politics, and more.

Outside the Lines release party, 7:30 p.m., Friday, September 5. The Loft Literary Center, Open Book Building, 1011 Washington Ave. S., Minneapolis.

The members of the group come from a diverse Latino background. “When people hear ‘Latino,'” says Lorena Duarte, one of the members of the group, “they have an idea of what that means. When you go to a Palabristas show, you see the diversity.” Still, the Palabristas are united by their Latino heritage and their love of words that unites them.

“I think as poets, as artists,” says Duarte, “we long for a sense of community. Writers are very isolated, and if you are a person of color, your voice is lacking in the mainstream media. It’s wonderful to find yourself surrounded by people who share your language, who inspire you and motivate you.”

The group took their name from the Spanish word palabras—”words.” When they formed in 2002 for the National Poetry Slam, they wanted to have a Latino name. Their original name was Palabreros, but later changed it to Palabristas. “‘Palabristas’ slips off the tongue better,” Duarte says.

The members of Palabristas perform together throughout the year at literary venues like The Loft, clubs like Babalu, and at universities and in schools. This October they will be traveling to San Francisco for a festival called “The Chicano Messengers of the Spoken Word.” They also perform individually. For example, Dessa Darling is a member of the Doomtree hip-hop collective, and Larry Lucio Jr. is the co-founder of the Twin Cities hip-hop collective.

But despite the various careers of the individual artists, the members of Palabristas meet together to push and inspire one another. “It’s like a family,” says Duarte. “It’s very organic.”

Sheila Regan is a theater artist based in Minneapolis. When not performing or writing, she serves as educational coordinator for Teatro del Pueblo.