Cross-Pollinating ‘‘Dust
on Butterfly’s Wings’’:
Latina/o Writing and Culture
Beyond and After Martí
Yo puedo hacer, puedo hacer
De esta desdicha una joya;
(I can make, I can make
my misfortune into a gem.)
—José Martí, ‘‘[Yo puedo hacer . . . ],’’ Poesía completa
in order to
limn the di√erent Ameri-
can modernity and early experiments in modernist literary form by
Latino writers in the late nineteenth century, this book draws pri-
marily on work by José Martí, who despite his migratory status and
accented English enjoyed the privileges of masculinity, light-skin,
and professional training. Detailed consideration of this ample cor-
pus of major and minor texts was necessary in order to engage a
long history of Martí criticism. This kind of in-depth work proved a
condition for attempting to think about how Martí’s translations
recast fundamental concepts and methods in U.S.-based American
studies. Focusing on a critically acclaimed major writer enables
me to assume his work’s literary significance, and to leverage that
weight toward the book’s larger claim: that we who work in the field
of a new American studies should pay attention to Martí not only as
a great Latin American modernist, but as a migrant Latino writer
who reveals to us aspects of the United States not visible to readers
in the United States widely. As Martí himself came to acknowledge,
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