Books—“Agridulce: Poetry and Prose”

As Peter Jordens reminds us, “this one escaped our eyes in 2021”: the poetry and prose collection Agridulce. In a book review from September 2022, “Love Language Taste like Agridulce,” Jennifer Hernández (Al Día) writes that “Dominican born author, Dhayana Alejandrina, is breaking barriers through her writing by promoting active conversations on mental health and self-love.” Here are excerpts. [See additional links below.]

Agridulce is a collection of poems and prose written by Dhayana Alejandrina, a Dominican born author. Agridulce explores the most complex of emotions like love, and dives deeper into the importance of mental health and self-growth. The book is divided in two sections: Lo Agrio (The Sour) and Lo Dulce (The Sweet).

Agridulce is a compelling collection that evokes the desire to thrive, to seek one’s voice, and to propel our creative mind to choose art beyond our momentary circumstances. Lo Agrio (The Sour) explores one’s inability to find the courage to speak our truth, and whatever that might be or look-like. Oftentimes fear interferes with our ability to move forward, something Dhayana understands and has experienced in her life. Finding refuge in others’, instead of finding a home within oneself represent the sourness of self-hate and self-rejection. At times, Agridulce offers a moment of silence and deep thought. The opportunity to get lost in what can be, if only, if simply, we start to love oneself, and choose the sweetness of what life can mean. 

Lo Dulce (The Sweet) is the painful realization that love can hurt. That love itself is painful, but worthy of being embraced. Yet, in the midst of all the pain, healing is possible. Inner peace is possible. Self-love is possible. From the perspective of someone with a passion for reading, my favorite poem from the book is “Home.” It felt like the perfect way that the writer used to exhort the reader to build a sanctuary within themselves. 

I had the pleasure to interview Dhayana Alejandrina and ask some questions regarding Agridulce.

Jennifer H: What inspired you to write Agridulce and what does the title mean?

Dhayana AAgridulce is bittersweet. The original title of the book was ‘sweet and sour,’ but changed it after someone else reached out letting me know that her book was titled the same. So I sat with it, ‘do I keep my title or change it’, and I’m like ‘Dhayana don’t you speak two languages?’ And I was like Agridulce. It’s perfect. It allows me to talk about my roots, where I come from, and it represents what the book is exactly about. It felt right at home.

I got married young. I got married when I was 18. He is military and that’s why we moved to Japan. Being overseas for four years was tough. We were so young and I experienced a lot of emotions; I was writing them all the time. A lot of times I did not have a voice. I felt like I didn’t have a voice to even speak about them. I didn’t have the courage to talk about them. Everything was written down. I would look at them, it felt like a story. I need to put this together somehow.  It’s going to happen, this is going to be it. Because everything that I was going through I felt like writing Agridulce was meant to close and open a door. I am leaving this behind but I’m walking away with so much more. I’m actually expressing it but giving myself the permission to talk about it. This is how I feel, this is what I didn’t say and I’m not going to sugarcoat it. Also, it motivated me to not hide true emotions, we sugarcoat things, we don’t tell people how we truly feel because we don’t want to hurt their feelings. But it is really important to talk about how we feel, truly, depressed, upset, lost, confused, so Agridulce has all of it. I felt so many different emotions and that’s why I felt motivated and inspired to write because I know there are a lot of people out there who do not have a voice, who feel they should not talk about it or perhaps is not important enough. But if you read through my book, there are so many things you relate to, and that comes to tell you that there are people out there who feel the same but perhaps they don’t have the space, or the voice, or the strength to talk about it and that’s how Agridulce came alive. [. . .]

For full review, see

“Dreaming of Lo Agrio and Dulce”
Learn how the Dominican writer Dhayana Alejandria became interested in literature and how her interest in higher education was born.
Jennifer Hernandez, Al Día, September 1, 2022

Agridulce: Poetry and Prose
Dhayana Alejandrina
Gatekeeper Press, 2021
162 pages
ISBN 978-1662912061 (pb) Also see

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