10 Latina Poets Whose Collections Should Be On Your To-Read List
Poetry collections are having a wonderful moment right now and we’re hopeful that it will continue to bloom as more poets of color are working to get their work out into world through small presses and even self-publishing.
Many Latina poets start sharing their work across mediums such as Instagram, through the slam poetry scene and through their own poetry collectives. Recently, several talented Latinas have released collections of their work that are just the words we need right now.
Here are 10 Latina poets with collections to add to your to-read list!
1. Tesoro by Yesika SalgadoCredit: Instagram @yesikastarr
The poet’s second collection of poetry is available November 1st from Not A Cult Press. If you are a fan of Salgado’s work from her slam poetry performed with her troupe, Chingona Fire, to her first collection, Corazon, you will want to grab this book and not put did down until its finished. If you are new to her work, follow Salgado on Instagram, and then order her book. Her poems about love, both romantic and her journey to self-love, will make you sigh, cry, yell and want to give yourself some much needed compassion.
2. Beast Meridian by Vanessa Angelica VillarealCredit: Goodreads
This poet’s debut book out from Noemi Press has received wonderful buzz for its unique poetic narration that explores generational familial and cultural trauma, and imagines paths towards healing and reconciliation. This collection has been on several “best of” lists and is widely praised as a raw navigation of the violences that women, especially Latina women endure, and must face in order to reclaim the self.
3. The Carrying by Ada LimónCredit: Goodreads
If you aren’t already reading Ada Limón’s work, you have some work to do! The Carrying, Limón’s fourth collection of poetry, has already set the bar high for poetry this year, depicting emotionally acute struggles that readers are not often exposed to-ruminations on chronic illness, infertility, and aging. In each of her collections, Limón is unafraid to be vulnerable with her readers, and with herself.
4. Lima :: Limón by Natalie Scenters-ZapicoCredit: Goodreads
This book is forthcoming from Copper Canyon Press in 2019 and promising to be a must-read. As a Canto Mundo fellow, Scenters-Zapico has been a part of the Latinx poetry community for some time and her work reflects on life as a woman in the borderlands, illustrating the toxic masculinity that expects women to endure suffering in silence. Her work incorporates traditional corridos and music from her childhood to challenge borderland injustices and violence against women that is a part of the way immigrants are treated. This book will prove to be a force to be reckoned with.
5. Night Blooming Jasmin(n)e by Jasminne MendezCredit: Goodreads
Night-Blooming Jasmin(n)e is a wonderful hybrid collection of essays and poems from Dominican American poet Jasmine Mendez. In this collection, the poet explores her ongoing struggles with chronic illness and infertility. This poetic memoir tells her story and navigates the way that women of color are frequently dismissed by the medical community. This masterful hybrid work shares inconvenient truths about Mendez’ diagnoses, falling in love, irreparable changes to her body and finding power in telling her truth, though it may not always be hopeful. Out now from Arte Público Press, you can pick up your copy at local bookstores, and find Mendez on her poetry tour!
6. Lessons on Expulsion by Erika L. SanchezCredit: Amazon
Though her wonderful new YA Novel, I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter is getting a lot of (rightful) attention, Erika L. Sanchez’s debut poetry collection will floor you. Her poems navigate the borders between countries, culture, the dead and the new possibilities of the living. The images that Sanchez uses will haunt you, like this line from “La Cueva: “Briefly, we see they’ve learned to wipe the smeared mirrors inside them.”
7. Virgin by Analicia SoteloCredit: Goodreads
Analicia Sotelo’s debut collection explores the poetics surrounding the minds of women and the ways in which we subvert the expected narratives of naivete and complicity. This collection incorporates autobiographic elements with storytelling that speaks to a wider feminine voice that is both mythic and relateable to those who have needed a voice as careful, as vulnerable, and as potent as Sotelo’s.
8. Nightbloom and Cenote by Leslie Contreras SchwartzCredit: Goodreads
Schwartz’s second collection of poetry speaks to the themes that many of the other collections on this do: the legacy of abuse for young Latina women across familial generations and their resilience to survive and to heal. In one poem of this collection, the poet speaks to the resilience of living beings despite the labels imposed on them: “Call all thriving things illegal: / The magnolia tree, its roots, / That vast network of veins that feeds itself / And others like it in dry soil, / Pushes space through concrete sidewalks / To breathe … Every tough, gnarled thing holding / Its own life in a fist of vitality is illegal.” This collection can be found from Saint Julian Press.
9. Muted Blood by Monica Teresa OrtizCredit: Black Radish Books Site
This debut collection from Tejana poet Monica Teresa Ortiz explores the intersections of queerness, ethnicity and language and how they are policed in spaces that seek to silence these voices. Told in a triptych, or three-part structure, navigates a decidedly Texan landscape while also nodding to Spanish poet Federico Garcia Lorca, creating a conversation around fluid ideas of gender and culture and the ways that we connect across our stories.
lo terciario/the tertiary by Raquel Salas RiveraCredit: Goodreads
Raquel Salas Rivera the 2018-2019 Poet Laureate of Philadelphia. A widely published poet with several chapbooks and full length collections, their work is bilingual and speaks to decolonizing the queer Puerto Rican experience in the face of a growing debt crisis and the ongoing colonial control of the US over the territory. This poet’s prolific work has made them someone to follow and to read as someone who challenges what poetry can be.
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