Study Guide

The Latin Deli: An Ars Poetica Community

By Judith Ortiz Cofer

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You can get more than a meal at the Latin Deli. You can get connected. And no, we're not talking about free wifi. We mean the people, people. At its core, "The Latin Deli: An Ars Poetica" is a poem that's all about community. In it, we have a group of expatriates who are separated from the original communities of their homes. At the same time, they can come together at the deli to form a new kind of community, one that's bound through the common experiences of homesickness, language, and lots and lots of delicious food.

Questions About Community

  1. Which do you think is more important to the deli-goers: their connections to home or their connections to one another? What parts of the poem support your answer?
  2. What is the store owner's role in this community?
  3. What is the store's role in this community? Do you think these shoppers would still connect without the deli to go to? Why or why not?

Chew on This

This poem shows us that community is about two things: people and places. You need both to make it work.

"The Latin Deli" shows us that everyone needs a community of some kind, and people will gravitate to one in the most difficult circumstances.

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