Delgado is most admired for his role in fathering (along with poets Rodolfo “Corky” Gonzáles and Ricardo Sánchez) the artistic side of the Chicano movement. He befriended other poets and encouraged younger colleagues in their work; he read his poetry widely in public and was known as a powerful performer. His poetry itself received mixed reviews. “El Imigrante” is often cited for its boomerang metaphor and another in which the migrants are “golondrinas” or “migrating swallows”; “stupid america” to some appears prophetic in warning that “that chicano/ shouting curses on the street/ . . . is a poet/ without paper and pencil/ and since he cannot write/ he will explode.” Elsewhere, however, it is noted that Delgado’s insistence on using conventional meter leads to some distortions (“how soon do you stop being a muchacho?/ why do you wear as heart a ripe pistachio?”) and that his poetry often needs editing, a criticism with which Delgado has agreed. During the 1960’s, his work was not published by a major publisher—he often mimeographed his poems or paid to have them printed himself—and his reputation remained largely confined to the Latino community.

Additional Information

For a critical assessment of the contributions of Delgado as well as other Chicano poets, see Chicano Poetry: A Critical Introduction (1986) by Cordelia Candelaria.