Poetry’s Been Called An Outdated Pastime, But These Latinas Are Breathing New Life Into The Art

credit: Elizabeth Acevedo / Sonia Guiñansaca / Ruth in Truth Visuals

The rise of social media has led to a rebirth of poetry and a platform for talented writers of color to shine. From spoken word videos going viral on Facebook to short verses filling up our Instagram feeds, the art form, which some have called an “outdated pastime,” is very much alive, and Latinas are among those breathing new life into it.

Here, some of the fiercest and current Latina voices whose poetry help us understand our identities, navigate trying times, heal and, ultimately, inspire us to live our best lives.

1. Elizabeth Acevedo

I LOVE sweater weather, but look at tanned-and-naked-shoulder summer Liz. Gotta shine in every season, yea?✨

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Elizabeth Acevedo is a Dominican-American poet and author from New York City. She has performed her work, which often tackles issues of Afro-Latinidad, anti-blackness, colonialism, feminism and spirituality, on stages across the world and has been featured on BET and Mun2. The author of the chapbook Beastgirl & Other Origin Myths, a collection of gendered folkloric poems, Acevedo’s debut novel, “The Poet X,” which tells the story of a 15-year-old Afro-Dominican teen who uses poetry to navigate life in Harlem under a strict, religious household, will hit bookstores in 2018. Follow her on Instagram and Twitter.

2. Sonia Guiñansaca

Sonia Guiñansaca is a queer New York City-based poet, cultural organizer and activist. Born in Ecuador, Guiñansaca’s work, which she has performed at The Met, El Museo Del Barrio, The Nuyorican Poets Cafe, the NY Poetry Festival, Galleria de La Raza and more, centers on migration, climate justice, migrant rights, queer/femme identity and the role of artists in social movements. Her chapbook, Nostalgia & Borders, was reprinted in June 2017. Follow Guiñansaca on Instagram and Twitter.

3. Yesika Salgado

as promised, the first batch of pictures from my shoot with the brilliant @ruthintruth

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Yesika Salgado is a Salvadoran-American writer from Los Angeles. The self-described “fat, fly and brown” poeta writes about her family and culture as well as her body and heartbreaks. A National Poetry Slam finalist, she is the co-founder of the Latina feminist poetry collective Chingona Fire. Salgado, a social media sensation, has self-published several zines, including The Luna Poems, WOES and Sentimental Boss Bitch, and in October of 2017 she debut her first poetry book, “Corazón.” Follow her on Instagram and Twitter.

4. Elisabet Velasquez

Every game I play. I play for keeps. I don't play to win. I play to defeat.

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Elisabet Velasquez is a Puerto Rican poeta from Bushwick, Brooklyn. Performing on stages across the nation, the writer was a former member of the legendary Nuyorican Poets Café and, with them, placed fourth at a National Slam Team. A Latina feminist, Velasquez’s work largely centers on violence against women and owning our power and beauty as well as gentrification and Puerto Rican identity. She is the author of the chapbook PTSD and, most recently, opened for Amber Rose’s Slut Walk 2017, where she performed her viral piece, “Elephant.” Follow her on Instagram and Twitter.

5. Ariana Brown

Ariana Brown is a Black Mexican-American poet hailing from San Antonio, Texas. Currently a student at the University of Pittsburgh, where she’s working on an MFA in Poetry, she has performed on stages throughout the country. Dubbed a “part-time curandera,” Brown’s poetry centers on healing, race, ethnicity, gender, class and sexual orientation. Her latest chapbook, Messy Girl, which deals with depression and romantic heartbreak, is out on November 30. Follow her on Instagram and Twitter.

6. Denice Frohman

When you're under a tight deadline so you can't make the PR Festival, but you rep anyway… ???️‍?

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Denice Frohman is an award-winning poet, writer, performer, educator and speaker from New York. The part-Puerto Rican, part-Jewish writer’s poetry largely focuses on race/ethnicity, gender, sexuality and “in-betweeness.” Her work is driven by social change and aims to disrupt traditional notions of power and encourage people to celebrate the parts of themselves they have been told were undeserving of love. Currently on a national tour, Frohman’s debut album, Feels Like Home, a blending of music, poetry and song, was released in 2013. Follow her on Instagram and Twitter.

7. Angela Aguirre

CHINGONA.

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Angela Aguirre is a Chicana-Italian poet, mental health activist and teaching artist living in Los Angeles. The feminista writes about womanhood and identity as well as love, loss, heartbreak and growth. When she’s not performing on stages across the country, she is leading poetry workshops at high schools, universities and various organizations. She is also the other half of Chingona Fire, which she and Salgado use to create space for women of color poets. In 2016, Aguirre published “Confessions of Firework,” a book of poems and writing prompts about healing, opening our hearts and growing. Follow her on Instagram.

8. Melissa Lozada-Oliva

welcome to the world, my sweet child. ?:@nenograe w/ @buttonpoetry

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Melissa Lozada-Oliva is a Guatemalan-Colombian spoken word poet and educator currently residing in New York. An MFA candidate at New York University’s creative writing program for poetry, Lozada-Oliva’s work, centering on feminism, body image and Latinidad, moves, empowers and will definitely make you chuckle. A 2015 National Poetry Slam champion and Brenda Moosey Video Slam winner, she has authored the chapbooks Plastic Pájaros and Rude Girl is Lonely Girl! Her latest, Peluda, looks at hair removal, the beauty business and Latina identity. Follow her on Instagram and Twitter.

9. Fior E. Plasencia

Fior E. Plasencia is a Dominican-born, New York-based poet. She is the fierce voice behind Mujer con Voz, a platform she uses to share poetry and provide access to other writers of the Dominican diaspora. Her work is written in Spanish, English and Spanglish, and it centers heavily on immigration, cultural identity, homesickness, struggle and survival. Her poetry book “Para Cenar Habrá Nostalgia,” which was published by DWA Press in 2016, looks at the immigration experience and being neither here nor there. Follow her on Instagram and Twitter.

READ: Watch A Latina’s Powerful Anti-Street Harassment Poem Come To Life In This Beautiful Choreographed Video


Let us know your favorite Latina poets killin’ it at the moment in the comments.

 

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