Crossing the Border into Poetry: Documenting the Undocumented and the Trauma of Migration in Javier Zamora’s "Unaccompanied"
Date of Submission
Academic Programs and Concentrations
Project Advisor 1
My project focuses on Unaccompanied, a collection of poetry by Salvadoran American Javier Zamora published in September of 2017. In 1999 Zamora made the dangerous journey from El Salvador to the United States at the age of nine as an unaccompanied minor. It is this journey that inspired the title of this work. By retracing his footsteps some two decades later, Zamora grapples with his status as an undocumented person in the United States, the scars of the brutal journey across the Sonoran Desert, as well as the fragmented nature of his memories of home.
This project asks what it means to cross the border into poetry. It begins by examining the poetics of the border, the in between place that haunts the lines of Zamora’s poems and that acts as the lens through which he defines the self and characterizes temporality. By focusing on his poems that deal with the experience of the border crossing in my first chapter, I argue that the border extends far beyond its temporal and geographical parameters. Moving in my second chapter to the final section of poems that focus on the poet’s date of arrival in the U.S., I argue that the date of arrival for Zamora similarly becomes a component of his identity, one which he cannot leave behind. In my final chapter I focus on the poems of Unaccompanied that piece together or, in the language of anthropologist Sarah Coutin, “re/member” El Salvador of the past through the perspective of being removed from that place and by accessing collective, familial memory. These poems document the undocumented, and I read them as a human testimony of the precariousness of immigration status and what it means to live in between borders.
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Reimann, Chloe Ruth, "Crossing the Border into Poetry: Documenting the Undocumented and the Trauma of Migration in Javier Zamora’s "Unaccompanied"" (2018). Senior Projects Spring 2018. 250.
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