Quique Aviles

The Immigrant Museum

At the Immigrant museum there are accents
language mishaps
dance lessons for people with no rhythm
fake documents
foreign heroes
military medals
gypsies and comadres
mafiosos and compadres

The museum halls offer
Polish poetry
German doubts
Mexican colors
Negro insight and essays
Irish midwives

At the Immigrant Museum, there are accents
historic oil drum barrels from the Persian Gulf
replicas of holding cells for aliens from the tropics
A sequential installation on the life of the nanny
morning tasks: washing, drying, folding, ironing
dinner prep
and dinner
the first bilingual robot
confusing translation manuals
primitive art for western tourists

At the Immigrant Museum there are accents
Russian vodka
bilingual answering machines
herbal potions
Jesus paintings
Chinese noodles
Vietnamese sandals
the first dream to enter Ellis Island that wasn’t fulfilled

At the Immigrant Museum there are accents
song and prayer
circumcision and baptism
wedding dresses
hard hats
baby bottles
joy dancing in colors
dreams posing as day laborers


At the Immigrant Museum there are accents


Quique Aviles is a poet and performer whose work addresses social issues. A native of El Salvador and a graduate of the Duke Ellington School of the Arts, Aviles has been writing and performing in the US for over 30 years, appearing throughout the Washington area, in Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Santa Fe. His poetry has been featured on NPR's "Latino USA" and on subway posters through Washington's "Metro Muse." He has written and performed five one-man shows: Caminata: A Walk Through Immigrant America; Chaos Standing/El Caos de Pie; Latinhood/Latinez; Los Otros Dos/The Other Two; and Salvatrucans. He has also performed with Nuyorican Poets, and with Guillermo Gomez-Peña, Roberto Sifuentes, B Stanley, Silvana Straw, and Michelle Parkerson in The Dangerous Border Game. A 1991 recipient of the Washington, DC Mayor's Arts Awards, he continues a lifelong commitment to mentoring emerging artists and helping young people find their voice. Aviles's first book of poetry, The Immigrant Museum, was published in collaboration with Raices de Papel, a design and bookbinding workshop based in Mexico City.