Poets of Queens: Angy Rivera


Angy Rivera (right) with her mother, Maria Yolanda Rivera

There are many outlets available to deal with issues going on in one’s life. Angy Rivera, a Flushing resident, gets through her life experiences by turning them into poetry. The writing form allows her to speak her mind more freely than she can in other mediums.

“It can be difficult for me to express myself otherwise. Poetry allows me to write out all my feelings in full or incomplete sentences, without any structure, research or bibliographies,” she said.

Poetry became a large part of Rivera’s life when she was in high school. It was during this time that she learned how much her undocumented immigrant status would affect her life. Rivera immigrated from Colombia in 1994. Besides immigration, Rivera has also written about other subjects that matter to her, such as social justice, women’s rights and gentrification.

Gentrification is the subject of one of her latest poems, “Community Not Condominiums.” Rivera said that she is frustrated and saddened by the shift towards wealthier residents.

“Flushing is filled with immigrants and people like me who are just trying to make it by with their families. Their determination to make it is what I wish to capture through this poem,” she said.

“Community Not Condominiums”

Last stop last stop
Stand clear of the closing doors
Two blocks up from the last stop you can buy four dollar sushi roles
Hot pot dinners
Fried and steamed dumplings
Buy 1 get 1 free taro, coconut, apple, chocolate, mango bubble teas milk tea, and green tea
Busy mall
Chinese New Year
Dim sum
Moon festivals
Red decorations
Admiring the dragon racing up and down the streets
It’s a tradition
There are no strangers here
This is community

How will Doña MarÍa sell her tamales, arepas, café y chocolate
When the streets become businesses she cannot pronounce
Will her café con leche compete with Starbucks?
These signs of a cleaner and safer Queens erase the resiliency already here
We weren’t dirty to begin with
Will her house stand untouched during gentrification?

My childhood is splattered across the windows of houses and buildings in Queens
Woodside, Corona, Elmhurst, Roosevelt and Flushing
Home away from home
The only communities that have nurtured my growth
Where I met Mexican and Dominican food
Where I learned to play dominoes and heard Bachata playing from the neighbor’s window
Home away from home
Where I was welcomed since I was 4
Español spoken on my block I never felt alone or scared
Community not condominiums
There are no strangers here
Doña MarÍa packs up her truck
Her casita awaits
Tomorrow will be a new day
Filled with hopes that these streets will always stay the same