Happy Hispanic Heritage Month! This month is a time to recognize the achievements and contributions of Hispanic and Latinx people to the world. One great way of doing this is by reading books by Hispanic authors. To celebrate, I’ve been picking up poetry collections written by Hispanic or Latinx writers. And, as always, I think it’s important to say that we should be reading these authors all year long, not just in this one month. There’s a whole world of literature to discover, make sure you’re taking in a diverse array of voices!
The Woman I Kept to Myself by Julia Alvarez: A lightly structured collection of autobiographical poems covering themes of love, marriage, rejection, death, and religion.
Kontemporary Amerikan Poetry by John Murillo: An urgent and unflinching collection of poems tracing the author’s history with violence as well as the legacy of systemic injustice in America.
Borderlands La Frontera: the New Mestiza by Gloria Anzaldúa: Lyrical, thought-provoking poems exploring life along the Mexican-American border and the experience of being caught between two cultures.
If This is the Age We End Discovery by Rosebud Ben-Oni: Blending poetry and science, these engaging, spare poems tackle existential themes of creation, nullification, and objective truth.
How to Love a Country by Richard Blanco: Written by presidential inaugural poet, Richard Blanco, this is a collection of hopeful, deeply felt long prose poems that address the complexities of identity and the contradictions of American nationhood.
A Love Story Beginning in Spanish by Judith Ortiz Cofer: A thoughtful collection of 34 poems following a wide variety of people as they navigate ever-changing landscapes.
Citizen Illegal by José Olivarez: A vivid, celebratory collection of poems exploring the stories, contradictions, joys, and sorrows that embody life in the spaces between Mexico and the United States.
The Performance of Becoming Human by Daniel Borzutzky: Winner of the 2016 National Book Award for Poetry, this is a striking, powerful collection of poems touching on issues relating to border and immigration policies, economic disparity, and political violence.
Diva by Rafael Campo: Deftly moving between received forms and free verse, this is a provocative collection of poems exploring the author’s Cuban heritage, his work as a doctor caring for AIDS patients, and his identity as a gay man.
Beneath the Spanish by Victor Hernández Cruz: An inventive, experimental collection tracking the way that languages intersect and inform each other and how language and music shapes experience.
The Surrender Tree: Poems of Cuba’s Struggle for Freedom by Margarita Engle: Fierce and haunting poems constructing a narrative woven around Cuba’s fight for independence.
Slow Lightning by Eduardo C. Corral: Passionate, engaging poems that mix English and Spanish to explore the author’s experiences as a Chicano and gay man.
Alabanza by Gina L. Franco: Emotional, raw poems that explore the terrains of the borderlands, both as the physical space of the American southwest and the spaces within where lines are drawn.
When Living Was a Labor Camp b Diana García: A vibrant, bittersweet collection of poems looking at the migrant labor camps of California.
Cenzontle by Marcelo Hernandez Castillo: A lyrical, imagistic collection of poems creating a nuanced narrative of life before, during, and after crossing the US/Mexico border.
Be Recorder by Carmen Giménez Smith: Darkly humorous and spare poems populate this collection tackling themes of capitalism, identity, race, motherhood, feminism, and violence.
Notes on the Assemblage by Juan Felipe Herrera: Written by the nation’s first Latino Poet Laureate, this is an exuberant and socially engaged collection exploring the chasms of culture.
The Carrying by Ada Limón: A gorgeous, thought-provoking collection exploring themes of misogyny, racism, war, and interconnectedness.
Hustle by David Tomas Martinez: Thrilling and striking autobiographical poems detailing the author’s experiences as a Latino in San Diego.
Blud by Rachel McKibbens: A collection of dark, rhythmic poems interested in the ways in which inherited things like bloodlines, mental illnesses, and trauma affect their inheritors.
The Crazy Bunch by Willie Perdomo: Written with a strong sense of place, this is a vivid, richly detailed portrait of coming of age in East Harlem at the beginning of the 1990s.
Not Go Away is My Name by Alberto Ríos: An ode to family life, love, and community, this is a nostalgic, hopeful collection of poems detailing life on the border of Mexico and the United States
New and Selected Poems by Gary Soto: From the charged, short-lined poems of Soto’s early writing to the off-beat humor in his longer, more recent work, New and Selected Poems is a timely tribute to a brilliant writer.
Unaccompanied by Javier Zamora: A heartwrenching, dramatic, gritty collection assessing borderland politics, race, and immigration on a profoundly personal level.
Who are your favorite Hispanic or Latinx poets? What books are you picking up this month?