Tortillera: Poems

Tortillera: Poems

by Caridad Moro-Gronlier


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The word tortillera means lesbian in Español. The moniker is familiar to most Spanish speaking cultures, but especially particular to the Cuban experience. In most Cuban-American households to be called a tortillera (whether one is one or not) is the gravest of insults, the basest of adjectives, a cat call that whips through the air like a lash whose only intention is to wound, to scar. Many a first-generation, Cubanita (the ones who are into other girls, anyway) has suffered, denied, wailed over the loaded term, but in Caridad Moro-Gronlier’s debut collection, Tortillera, she not only applies the term to herself, she owns it, drapes it over her shoulders and heralds her truth through candid, unflinching poems that address the queer experience of coming out while Cuban.

The first half of the book immediately plunges the reader into the speaker’s Cuban-American life on-the-hyphen through vivid, first person narratives that draw one in, making the reader privy to the moments that mold the speaker’s experience: marginalization at a teacher-parent conference; the socioeconomic distinctions at assorted Quinceañera celebrations; a walk down the aisle toward divorce amid a back drop of wedding registries and Phen-Phen fueled weight-loss; post-partum depression; a peek into a No-Tell motel that does tell of the affair she embarks upon with her first female lover; the agony of divorce vs. the headiness of sex and lust; the evolution of an identity in verse.

Part reckoning, part renewal, part redemption, part rebirth, the poems in Tortillera come clean, but more than that, they guide, reveal and examine larger considerations: the role of language on gender its subsequent roles, the heartrending consequences of compulsory heterosexuality, as well as the patriarchal stamp emblazoned on the Cuban diaspora. The work contained in Tortillera befits its audacious title—bold, original and utterly without shame.

Winner of The TRP Southern Poetry Breakthrough Series: Florida

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781680032444
Publisher: Texas Review Press
Publication date: 01/29/2021
Series: The TRP Southern Poetry Breakthrough Series
Edition description: 1
Pages: 118
Sales rank: 634,226
Product dimensions: 5.25(w) x 8.50(h) x (d)

About the Author

CARIDAD MORO-GRONLIER is the author of the chapbook Visionware. She is also a Contributing Editor for Grabbed: Poets and Writers Respond to Sexual Assault, Empowerment and Healing and an Associate Editor for SWWIM Every Day. Recent work can be found at The Best American Poetry Blog, Rhino, Go Magazine, Fantastical Florida, Notre Dame Review, West Trestle Review, and others.

Read an Excerpt

from “Unpacking the Suitcase”

Once a year you watch West Side Story
on the screen of your parents’ 1974 Zenith
and catch a glimpse of yourself on television.
You are the first born gringa in the family.
Your English is perfect, but you’re not
like your friends. You don’t go to slumber parties
or play-dates, you don’t join the Brownies
or take ballet, but once a year you get to
live in Technicolor and root for the Sharks
because they speak Spanish, too.

Table of Contents

Entry 1


Unpacking the Suitcase 4

Analfabeta 9

Arbolito in el Exilio, 1979 11

Topography 12

Inheritance 13

Wet Foot, Dry Foot, 2002 14

What I Should Have Said, Instead 16

Compulsion: A Chronology 18

Puta 21

Quinceañera 23

What the White Girl Asked at Our 20th High School Reunion 25


At Least I Didn't Rape You 28

Somnambulism 101: Never Wake a Talker 30

Cuban-American Lexicon 31

Visionware 33

What They Don't Tell You at the Baby Shower 34

Waiting to Be Discharged from the Maternity Ward 36

Fourth Quarter 37

Grilled 38

That Night at the Rack 'Em Room 39

At That Motel on 8th Street 41

Labor Day, 2003, Lincoln Road, Miami Beach 42

The Perfect Dress 44

Veteran's Day, 2005, Lincoln Road, Miami Beach 46

For My Lover, Returning to Her Husband 47

What You Learn at the Track 50

Doing Without 51

Like Finger Sandwiches for Sumo Wrestlers 52

Raisins in the Stuffing 54

Pruning Black-Eyed Susans on the Day of Our Divorce 55

Coming Out to Mami 56


For Marlene, Who Asked Why I Switched Teams 58

Contemplation of a Name 60

I Did Not Take My Camera to Paris 62

Why Can't You Just Listen? 64

The Really Good Dutch Oven 66

Memento Mori 67

I Don't Eat Plums Anymore 68

Uncoupled 69

Taking the Sunrise Tunnel 71

The Gift 72

When You Ask about Karen 73

What You Called to Say at Lunch 75

Ink 76

Pulse: A Memorial in Driftwood, Cannon Beach, OR 78

Solving the Crossword 79

Notes 81

Acknowledgments 82

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