Project Description

Isabel del Rio

Isabel del Rio

Isabel del Rio is a bilingual writer and linguist. She was born in Madrid, Spain, but has spent most of her life in London. She has a five-year degree from Madrid University and is a Fellow of the Institute of Translation & Interpreting (ITI) and of the Chartered Institute of Linguists (CIoL). She has extensive experience as a journalist, broadcaster and translator, including the BBC World Service, where she was a producer and presenter. For the past two decades she has worked as a linguist for an international organization based in London.

She has published fiction and poetry in both English and Spanish. Her book “La duda” was shortlisted for two literary awards in Spain. Her latest book of short stories “Zero Negative–Cero negativo” was written in both languages as an indictment against bloodshed in its many forms: war, torture, capital punishment, murder, martyrdom.

Spanish is her language of nostalgia, memory and exile, whereas English is her language of freedom, action and dissent.

She takes part in poetry/prose readings on a regular basis, and is an established performance poet in the London scene.


a poem on exile by Isabel del Rio

more inconsolable than being exiled in a far away place
is being exiled in the city of your birth, your youth, your past,
tougher than being an exile amongst foreigners is being
an exile amongst your own people, your family, your clan,

harsher still than the exile of the body is the exile
of the mind, condemned as you may be to a hell
of abhorrent ideas and horrific visions, a nightmare wanting
in tenderness, in generosity, in truth,

worst of all is the exile of feelings to a remote wilderness
because there is no one to share
them with, or forever exiling your ability to wonder because nothing
can captivate you any more,

the saddest of all exiles is the exile of your words
once they have been silenced, banished to where they
cannot be read, your poems misunderstood, your stories
in tatters, your speeches unheard, your writing ignored and even vilified…


if your exile is the place where you can be who you are, if
your exile gives you the words that allow you to say
what needs to be said,
if your exile is the passport to get where you have to get to,

if it is the key to freedom, to inspiration,
to discovery and invention, to desire and passion,
to calmness, to benevolence,
to peace,

the path to new emotions, new companionships, to new
lands to explore, new days to live, new
intimacies to enjoy, new words to
learn, new ideas to possess,

then exiled as you may be will be your salvation,
for the lack of a home will be also be home,
the lack of a country will be your nationality,
the beginning of your exile will be the end of your search…