Episode 2

Cintia Santana

Cintia Santana’s work has appeared in the Best New Poets 2020 anthology, The Iowa Review, The Kenyon Review, and many other literary journals. She was awarded fellowships from CantoMundo, the Atlantic Center for the Arts, and the Djerassi Resident Artists Program. She teaches literary translation, as well as poetry and fiction workshops in Spanish, at Stanford University.


Read "Ode to the J" and "[F]"

Cintia Santana’s website 

Interview at The Kenyon Review

Poems at Kenyon Review Online 

“Kintsugi” at Harvard Review Online

Poems at Beloit Poetry Journal

“Plosive” (visual poem) at Pleiades


"Just A Memory Now (Instrumental)" by Chad Crouch is licensed under CC

BY NC 4.0 with modifications

Alan May:

Welcome to The Beat, a poetry podcast produced by Knox County Public Library. Today, we’ll hear Cintia Santana read two poems from her book-length manuscript called The Disordered Alphabet. These poems, based on the letters “j” and “f,” are filled with sound repetition and collage imagery, and they touch on subjects from “jail” and “justice” to "fallen angels" and “fados in the rain” ("fado,” meaning, perhaps, both "fate" and a type of Portuguese song). What’s amazing to me about Santana’s work is her ability to produce poems that are, in the same instance, both playful and incredibly moving. Here are the poems “Ode to the J” and “[F].”

Cintia Santana:


Hey Jude, hey Judas, hey jumper on the bridge:

thirty pieces of silver buys you nothing

but a field of blood. And yet. How exquisite

it is to betray with a kiss. No sin is

original. No jail, a break. Blind, the river

and blind the curve. Justice. Just north of July.

Silver-green June grass and bug right

beside you. See, Jacob was my brother,

and Jack, in the box that was my heart, but not

now. Blossoming reed, sprouting seed, a scoop

in the hand, a jujube tree. Jump shot

in a jumpsuit. A jingle and a jangle. Jungle

into gym into jumble, so tumble. We did

and we do. Jewel is to joule as jazz

is to truth. Oh, oh, the density of joy

on a January jukebox. Stem no such flow.


First there was the sound

of a serpent in the ear.

Of falling. An angel

with a flaming sword.

A fist. The use

of force.

Fjord and flood. Fog

and foghorn. Flamingo,

flamenco, Flaubert.

Frankenstein. Then Frisch.

Fission, then Fermi. Fascism.

Anne Frank.

Flash, then fallout. The pamphlet

from the Office of Defense:

To escape temporary blindness,

bury your face in your arms.

To lessen your chances of injury by blast,

fall flat on your face.

Little Boy.

Fat Man.


of my flesh.

Sound of fat

hitting fire.

Paper lanterns,


Fault and faultline.

Fissure. Fences. Fray.

A fishbone

in the throat.

Also, a butterfly,

slow-flapping. Fidelity,

high. The number of f-stops

in the human eye.

Fizz and fantail. Fraud

and fracking. The fracture

of a fact; a farm

foreclosed. Your face—

why forbidden?

Grace, fastened

to an empty frame.

Not forgotten; forgiven.

Fade as fate. Fat. Fa.

Fados in the rain.

[Text of these poems was provided with permission of the poet.]

Alan May:

That was “Ode to the J” and “[F]” by Cintia Santana, who was kind enough to record these poems for us at her home in Menlo Park, California. Santana’s work has appeared in many well-known publications including The Iowa Review, The Kenyon Review, and the Best New Poets 2020 anthology. She was awarded fellowships from CantoMundo, the Atlantic Center for the Arts, and the Djerassi Resident Artists Program. She currently teaches literary translation, as well as poetry and fiction workshops in Spanish, at Stanford University, and she creates poetry-based installations for the Right Window Gallery in San Francisco. You can find out more about Santana and her work by clicking on the links in this episode’s show notes. Please join us next time for The Beat.

Various voices:

Thank you for listening to and sharing this podcast from Knox County Public Library in Knoxville, Tennessee. Music for this podcast is by Chad Crouch. Find all our podcasts at pods.knoxlib.org, and explore life-changing resources at www.knoxlib.org. That's "knox l-i-b." Go to our "keep in touch" page to sign up for newsletters. You can also follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. Make us your essential connection for life-long learning and information.

About the Podcast

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The Beat
A poetry podcast

About your host

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Alan May

Alan May works as a librarian at Lawson McGhee Library. He holds an MFA in creative writing from the University of Alabama. In his spare time, he reads and writes poetry. His work has appeared or is forthcoming in The New York Quarterly, The Hollins Critic, The Idaho Review, DIAGRAM, and others. He has published three books of poetry.