04 May 2009

Al Robles (+)

Sad news for poets: Alfred "Al" Robles, a bilingual poet based in San Francisco, died 2 May. Here is an excerpt from an interview by Darlene Rodrigues, where Robles talked about one of his most popular poems:

I wrote this poem called “Soon the White Snow Will Melt.” I was thinking about snow, and I was thinking of oppression and white people. And I was thinking of this one guy whose name is Richard Oaks. One day I saw him sitting at the Precita Bar, where all of us guys were just waiting to go up to Sacramento to read. He was just sitting there alone, drinking beer. He saw us and said, “What are you guys going to do?” We said, “We are gonna read.” He was a Mohawk Indian who later died near the Eel River. He felt deeply about the plight of his people as they were taking over Alcatraz. He said, “You guys are poets? What do you guys do?” I said, “We read.” He said, “You guys organize?” Cause he had some problems up north. He later got killed up there. We said, “Well, we gonna read. Would you like to?” He said, “Could I?” At that moment he became a poet. In one of his lines he was talking about oppression, and 99 percent of the people there were white. And he said, “Oppression, you know who you are.” And he wasn’t looking at us, right. He just kept on repeating that. He was very strong, very heavy. So I wrote these lines, “Soon the white snow will melt and underneath the black, brown, yellow, red earth will come to life.”

Allow me to change the words of John Donne to fit our situation: "No poet is an island, entire of itself; every poet is a piece of the continent, a part of the main; if a clod be washed away by the sea, Luzon [the island where I live in the Philippines] is the less, as well as if a promontory were, as well as if a manor of thy friend's or of thine own were; any poet's death diminishes me, because I am involved in poetry, and therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; it tolls for thee."


  1. may sir al robles rest in peace

    im a piece broken

    thank GOD

    thank you - for getting me in

    have a nice day!

  2. thank you for getting me in, sir

    have a nice day sir ganni

    i would ponder on your lines, they inspire me