I Am Joaquin

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I Am Joaquin (also known as Yo soy Joaquin), by Rodolfo "Corky" Gonzales, is a famous epic poem associated with the Chicano movement of the 1960s in the United States. In I am Joaquin, Joaquin (the narrative voice of the poem) speaks of the struggles that the Chicano people have faced in trying to achieve economic justice and equal rights in the U.S, as well as to find an identity of being part of a hybrid mestizo society. He promises that his culture will survive if all Chicano people stand proud and demand acceptance.[1][2]

The Chicano movement inspired much new poetry. I Am Joaquin is one of the earliest and most widely read works associated with the movement. In its entirety, the poem describes the then modern dilemma of Chicanos in the 1960s trying to assimilate with American culture while trying to keep some semblance of their culture intact for future generations, then proceeds to outline 2000 years of Mexican and Mexican-American history, highlighting the different, often opposing strains that make up the Chicano heritage. In the poem, for example, the speaker, Joaquin, traces both his ancestry to the Spanish conquistadores and the Aztecs they "conquered"; he also identifies with revolutionary figures of Mexican history such as Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla, Benito Juárez, Pancho Villa and Joaquin Murrieta who was a legendary Californian known for seeking retribution against the Anglo-Americans invaders who killed his wife.[3] The poem creates a "multivalent and heroic identity" in the figure of Joaquin, one that serves as a "collective cultural identity that contains within it a call to action."[4]

In 1969, the poem was adapted into a short film by director Luis Valdez, a leading figure in Chicano theater.


  1. ^ "Luis H. Moreno". Raza Press Association. Retrieved January 31, 2012.
  2. ^ "Yo Soy Joaquín". The Unapologetic Mexican. May 5, 2006. Archived from the original on March 2, 2012. Retrieved January 31, 2012.
  3. ^ ""Corky" Gonzales & Retroactive Chicanismo". writing.upenn.edu. Retrieved 2019-04-30.
  4. ^ Sphar, Juliana (Winter 2011). "Contemporary U.S. Poetry and Its Nationalisms". Contemporary Literature. 52 (4): 684–715. doi:10.1353/cli.2011.0045. JSTOR 41472491.

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