for the Next 100 Days & Beyond
The Academy of American Poets inaugurated National Poetry Month in 1996. It is now one of the largest literary celebrations in the world with schools, publishers, libraries, booksellers, and poets celebrating poetry’s vital place in our culture (Poets.org). In honor of poetry and literature, I’ve created a comprehensive list of books (poetry and prose) written by Latinx. There are enough books presented here to get you through the next year. I have selected books that encompass a five year span beginning with 2013 and including books due for release in 2017 and through 2018. These are collections of poetry and prose, some hybrid and translations. This list continues to evolve and grow.
It is important to note, cultural contexts, the stories found in Latinx literature are new for many readers. Author Valerie Martinez, in her forthcoming essay “Peopleness—Ethnicity and the Latino/a Poem,” remarks on the proliferation of Latinx writing. Latinx stories add to our ongoing understanding of the human experience. Latinx culture embodies a connection to and from the Caribbean islands, Mexico, Central and South America. We live in a world that would be poorer without these complex identities.
Books by Latinx writers reflect varied identities of class, education, and social mobility, including aesthetic and philosophical concerns. The intersection of geographic, cultural experience and style makes Latinx storytelling a phenomenon. It is my hope that this reading list will offer you a foundation into understanding the complex and varied writing of the Latinx community, at least until next year when a new crop of Latinx books appear.
If you’re a Latinx writer and you’d like to submit your book information, submit here (email@example.com). Include the following in your email: Book details (Author, Title, Publisher) 1. Synopsis; 2. URL (from Publisher, when available). Submissions must have an available and active URL.
Here they are in alphabetical order. Enjoy!
These poems are visceral and imaginative; we’re in bed, on subway trains, and in examination rooms. You can’t simply read through a poem but you must ride it out; allow yourself to be guided by the speaker’s failures and love for the world and those he encounters.
Women, and unequally, have had to bear tragic events, often alone and without a voice. A leap of faith comes through Accardi’s articulation of these events with grace and clarity.
A young adult horror story Children of the River Ghost. Set in contemporary Albuquerque, Children of the River Ghost is a unique reimagining of the la llorona myth told through the eyes of La Llorona herself. “I wanted to give her a voice, to give her the opportunity to tell her side of the story,” Aceves says.
An anthology of more than 30 interviews and artwork by Latinx artists and writers of graphic novels.
In The Deepest Roots, Alcalá walks, wades, picks, pokes, digs, cooks, and cans, getting to know her neighbors on a much deeper level. Wanting to better understand how we once fed ourselves and acknowledging that there may be a future in which we could need to do so again, she meets those who experienced the Japanese-American internment during World War II, and learns the unique histories of the blended Filipino and Native American community, the fishing practices of the descendants of Croatian immigrants, and the Suquamish elder who shares with her the food legacy of the island itself.
This bilingual collection of poems address love and lust in a gorgeous and frank canto inspired by Federico García Lorca’s own Canto Hondo. Francisco X. Alarcón is one of the most significant, contemporary Chicano poets. – Carmen Giménez Smith
Li Yun Alvarado’s Words or Water is an affective map of the Nuyorican archipelago, as oceanic as it is embodied. In vivid and uncompromising poems—about love and family, about the politics of tweezing and the intricacies of Puerto Rican rum, about the artist Keith Haring’s lover Juanito Xtravaganza and the imperialism of Old Navy t-shirts—Alvarado traces the “Atlantic currents” of diaspora while honoring quotidian practices of survival and struggle. – Urayoán Noel
The Codex Mojaodicus collects three novels-in-verse—“My Sweet Conquistador,” “Chaley Way,” and “The Pocho Codex”—all of which mine, mime, record, and disgorge the impressions and dissertations of language as it is uttered, stuttered, and felt in a variety of tongues and heads. In these theatrical poems, Alvarez documents a multilingual field and traces a Xicano genome over and above
The crucible of Mexican-American identity on display, José Angel Araguz engages personal mythologies of the self, culture, and place.
What does an undocumented immigrant look like? What kind of family must she come from? How could she get into this country? What is the true price she must pay to remain in the United States? In this true story, Arce tells of her life as an undocumented immigrant who became a Wall Street executive.
The almost unspeakably violent world of his Salvadoran childhood and the struggles of immigrant life in the United States. The Gravedigger’s Archaeology is an aesthetic and moral triumph. – B.H. Fairchild
The poetry and prose in the collection explore the deep love instilled in a people for themselves and their homeland even as they battle loss in San Francisco’s Mission District.
Where Ben-Oni finally lands pales beside how she sees the world through her tongue. The journey is all. And if you find yourself “unborn again… twitching in sin” or ‘tasting toadstools’ and singing the ‘discordant dark’, then you too may revel in that forbidden space of SOLECISM, reaping poetry from “what remains of the unruly wilds. – Amy King
Denise Benavides’ debut collection Split is a dedication to motherlessness and abandon—to a nightly killing and rebirths. At its worst, it is all teeth masticating through the body to interrogate and cut out what no longer serves the Self. It is a collection not meant for the weak, but for those willing to walk through what haunts them the most.
Xochitl-Julisa Bermejo’s poems rattle the heart, jolt the mind. Moving from the ‘tender emerald bites’ of nopales shared around a table to the brutal desert terrain crossed by immigrants, she interrogates the intimate and the political. Inventive, glimmering with Spanish, her language punctures silence and makes visible resilience. Her language is also curious; it’s shaped by the work of Georgia O’Keeffe and Frida Kahlo, and it cruises through the city of Los Angeles. These poems weren’t written to provide solace. These poems will break you in a thousand beautiful ways. – Eduardo C. Corral
Richard Blanco’s experiences as the inaugural poet in 2013, and beyond. In this brief and evocative narrative, he shares for the first time his journey as a Latino immigrant and openly gay man discovering a new, emotional understanding of what it means to be an American.
Daniel Borzutzky’s collection of poetry, The Performance of Becoming Human, draws hemispheric connections between the US and Latin America, specifically touching upon issues relating to border and immigration policies, economic disparity, political violence, and the disturbing rhetoric of capitalism and bureaucracies.
In re-evaluating the genre, Campanioni also re-evaluates our cultural capital, as well as our current modes of interaction and intimacy, exploring narcissism through the lens of self-effacement, pop culture, the cult of celebrity, and the value or function of art and (lost and) found art objects.
Alternative Medicine offers the balm of song and the salve of the imagination: from the wounds of our stubborn differences of identity, to the pain of alienation in a world of unfeeling technologies, to the shame of the persistent injustices in our society,
Campos’s bold imagery and accessible language and themes, he memorably adds to the continuing conversation of the effects of cultural expectations on the children of immigrant parents.
The Road to Llorona Park is a collection of short fiction about the changing world of la frontera/the borderlands of the Rio Grande Valley of South Texas. Carmona’s stories center around the current times when the political upheavals of Mexico began to effect peoples lives on both sides of the border.
The debut novel centers on a detective named Alma who infiltrates a Washington Territory opium smuggling ring while disguised as a man.
Growing up as the intellectually spirited daughter of a Mexican Indian immigrant family during the 1970s, Castillo defied convention as a writer and a feminist. A generation later, her mother’s crooning mariachi lyrics resonate once again. Castillo—now an established Chicana novelist, playwright, and scholar—witnesses her own son’s spiraling adulthood and eventual incarceration.
Jesús Castillo has created a sprawling contemporary epic that channels the mighty voices of the past (Ovid, Sappho) into a plainspoken song of our times. In a deft, generous style, Castillo takes hold of the stuff of our everyday lives and converts it into modern manna.
Marcelo Hernandez Castillo can distill great complex states of being into clear, piercing lines of breathtaking beauty. In this artist’s hands, a straightforward truth or observation blossoms into wild, windblown wonder—the kind of wonder that keeps us fully human, full of hope in all the pain. – Brenda Shaughnessy
A total force, a ground-rattling volumeI am astounded beyond measure. This is one of the bravest, most timely and duende-diggin’ books I have encountered in decades. I was waiting for this but I didn’t know it until I read it. – Juan Felipe Herrera
An engrossing coming-of-age novel that examines the intersection of art and ethnicity.
The lives in these poems by Kenneth Robert Chacon are hard, even brutal, but ultimately redeemed in their spiritual yearning. These poems are expansive in both their detailed portraiture and their ambitious journey.
Land of Fire, with a kind of understated, shadow title — Tierra del Fuego — embraces the reality of collisions and meldings: Spanish and English, violence and peace, legend and fact, pain and creation, family comfort and the echoes of Abraham and Isaac. Mario Chard conveys that shifting reality in lines that sing, innovating choral patterns and refrains that honor the past by re-conceiving it.” – Robert Pinsky
If you want to know the truth about what it means to grieve and to survive, keep these poems close and listen to this “all day, talking,” which is both deeply personal and profoundly political.” – Stacey Waite
This collection makes visible the Central American-Guatemalan diaspora and disentangles the myths from the mayhem of civil wars, urban wars, and the wars raging in young hearts.
This collection is a cleansing and transformative journey that takes us from rage to love with a depth of emotion and beauty in words that is breathtaking.
In Crush Me / RIA Brava, Crank writes from the perspective of an immigrant woman who cleans the house of a wealthy Anglo woman in the United States. The sparse prose and dream-like qualities of the narrator’s language encourage us to read this story as that of both a singular person and a representative of a larger mass of immigrant workers. Indeed our protagonist only names herself once and by the end of the narrative seems poised to disintegrate to an even more abstract version of herself. We may read and understand this novel as a broken one—a set of jagged pieces that together offer a portrait of gendered labor in a foreign land.
How the End Begins is about the world’s seductions, its incessant clamoring for more which is juxtaposed against the invisible world: the quiet, the call of the desert, and the pull to faith.
These poems come from the steam of tortillas on the comal, from the banks of arroyos, from the sweat simmering from the skin. These are not healing songs, these are not prayers, these are photos kept hidden, wrapped in musty paños, stuffed to the back of the drawer, some musty box, some vato’s back pocket.
There’s really no literal translation of “Quiéreme;” it’s in between “like me” and “love me” but, unlike in English, the verb does all the work—it’s all in one word: a command packed with feeling; a want; a little ball full of longing. And that’s basically what this book is: a little thing full of longing (and essays). In Spanglish. From loving imaginary people in Catholic school, to waiting for a lover’s tears at the airport, to documenting post-breakup grief, Quiéreme is a call on all the lingering ghosts of loving.
Drawing on influences such as Barthes’s notion of the punctum (the photographic detail that pierces the viewer) to the repertoire of circles and twirls—the veronicas—that bullfighters make with a red cape to attract the bull, Ebeid explores a poetics that is at once intricate and intimate.
At the heart of this volume is a series of ten poems about the death of the poet’s father. “El Moriviví” uses the metaphor of a plant that grows in Puerto Rico to celebrate the many lives of Frank Espada, community organizer, civil rights activist, and documentary photographer, from a jailhouse in Mississippi to the streets of Brooklyn.
A captivating, unforgettable novel set in Hollywood’s Golden Age, as a gifted and determined young man leaves Mexico—and everything he’s ever known—to follow his dreams.
Centered on the adoption of Blas Falconer’s son, The Foundling Wheel creates an emotional mosaic that explores the decision to become a parent.
On the humid pampas of Brazil, the hardworking Fonte family leaves their home when the military takes over the local mine. Uprooted to Porto Alere, father Antonio struggles in the crowded city while Pablo, his oldest son, gets swept into the resistance movement. With Pablo’s disappearance, Rose, their mother, holds the family close while Luca, the youngest child, comes of age in a household shadowed by oppression. Spanning the ’60s through the ’80s, The Marble Army is told tightly from haunting points of view, offering a lyrical testament to the families transformed by one of history’s most unforgiving regimes.
The voices in Empanada’s kitchen will definitely not be shy! Each probadita is told from the bustling space of the kitchen and heavily spiced with hurt and yearning, lust, desire, passion and bliss. Each bite of Empanada will take you on a journey through the heart of Paloma, a young lesbiana learning to maneuver her loving heart through a culture of judgment. This collection of vignettes is divided into three macroscopic sections: Food, Religion and Sex where personal, cultural and gender identity are in constant flux, but finally birth a new geographic space in Latina, Chicana, Mexican and Lesbian literature and lesbianidad.
Sean Frederick Forbes’s debut poetry collection, offers deeply personal poetry that digs beneath the surface of family history and myth. This coming of age narrative traces the experience of a gay, Afro-Latino narrator who confronts the traditions of his parents’ and grandparents’ birthplace: the seemingly idyllic island of Providencia, Colombia against the backdrop of his rough and lonely life in Southside Jamaica, Queens. These lyric poems open doors onto a third space for the speaker, one that does not isolate or hinder his sexual, racial, and artistic identities. Written in both free verse and traditional poetic forms, Providencia conjures numerous voices, images, and characters to explore the struggles of self-discovery.
Surely poetry is his birthright, too, the way Francisco never fails in every poem to make us see the ordinary world anew, even transfigured. – Julie Marie Wade
A love letter to lovers, to familia, to San Antonio. A mélange of experiences and polaroid shots of moments all too familiar to those who walk this queer path in search of desire, recuerdos, community, familia, and fideo homelands.
Here in Berlin is a portrait of a city through snapshots, an excavation of the stories and ghosts of contemporary Berlin – its complex, troubled past still pulsing in the air as it was during World War II. Critically acclaimed novelist Cristina García brings the people of this famed city to life, their stories bristling with regret, desire, and longing.
Set in Whittier, CA. Sad Girls & Other Stories introduces us to a world of chicanas and their families and friends as they come of age in a dystopian suburban backdrop of southeastern Los Angeles. Theirs is a world both confined and enhanced by the discoveries of family secrets, geography, sexuality, body-image and existential inexplicable sadness. Of the freeways both splintering neighborhoods and providing the sanctuary of numbness as they head North out of the suburbs of Los Angeles to other cities, to college, to freedom and to finally feel.
An oral history, storytelling project initiated by author Sarah Rafael García, which integrates community-based narratives to create contemporary fairytales and fables that represent the history and stories of Mexican/Mexican-American residents of Santa Ana.
A rich reimagining of Romeo and Juliet set in Texas during the explosive years of Mexico’s revolution. Filled with period detail, captivating romance, and political intrigue, it brings Shakespeare’s classic to life in an entirely new way.
The Reveal is utterly elegiac, blistering, imaginative, urgent—rendered out of reverence for life, but also a quiet daring to wrestle to say something true about loss, grief, and the strange logic of a world seemingly governed by time.
An unflinchingly honest exploration of Chicana womanhood along the border, a scattering of quetzal feathers and jade that celebrate the achingly lovely paradox of life on the edges and in the middle.
The recipient of a Whiting Award for Poetry, Girmay’s collection elegizes and celebrates life, while wrestling with the notion of seeing beyond: seeing violence, seeing grace, and seeing each other better.
Protection Spell explores racial inequalities in our current social landscape. It asks what it means to be safe and how we can create safe spaces through the traumas of racism, violence, gendered abuse, mental illness, and even ordinary, everyday sadnesses.
The poems in Toys Made of Rock pair experiments in form with explorations in identity. The lyric result of this offers inroads into the wide landscape of America. Gonzalez brings us izote flowers and caskets, tumor fruit and the minimum wage, voices from the neighborhood and portraits of love. It is a wide-ranging journey from one country to another, from lost childhoods and hard childhoods to the politically charged world of adulthood. Gonzalez is a storyteller and truth teller, a writer who sees that which must be written, must be sung, must be witnessed. The landscape of war is not always compromised of tanks and helicopters. Sometimes it looks like a neighborhood in America. – Brian Turner
Inextricably linked to his Mexican ancestry and American upbringing, Ray Gonzalez’s collection mounts the wall between the current realities of violence and politics, and a beautiful, never-to-be-forgotten past.
Our Lady of the Crossword is a sexy new chapbook from award-winning author Rigoberto González, who casts his poetic eye to such varied subjects as word puzzles, Mexican TV in the 80s, can-can dancing, and other compelling encounters that shaped the political consciousness of his cultural heritage and sexuality.
Reyna Grande vividly brings to life her tumultuous early years in this “compelling . . . unvarnished, resonant” (BookPage) story of a childhood spent torn between two parents and two countries.
At just fourteen years old her parents were detained and deported while she was at school. This memoir is a tale of personal triumph that also casts a much-needed light on the fears that haunt the daily existence of families likes the author’s and on a system that fails them over and over.
Dedicated and addressed to the poet’s grandfather, A Crown for Gumencindo is a heroic crown of sonnets that chronicles the first year of grief experienced due to the loss of the family patriarch.
Beneath the Halo explores various aspects of Mendoza’s experience as a Tejana, a native Texan of Mexican-American descent. She brings to life the landscapes and cultural life of her roots by delving into topics fundamental to her Tejana identity—family, land, faith, and marriage.
A poetic response to one of the deadliest shootings in U.S. history at a gay nightclub in Orlando, Florida.
Composed of five movements, bicycle‘s predominant imaginings, that of circles and bridges, bond the worlds of the Americas through all their interior levels.
A coming-of-age memoir by a Colombian-Cuban woman about shaping lessons from home into a new, queer life. In this lyrical, coming-of-age memoir, Daisy Hernández chronicles what the women in her Cuban-Colombian family taught her about love, money, and race.
Dear, Sincerely is Hernandez’s most intimate and dynamic collection to date, bringing the reader into poems that are simultaneously personal, universal, and sometimes political. With his characteristic dreamlike imagery, inventive rhythms, and biting wit, Hernandez’s voice reaches toward us with an accessible profundity.
Leticia’s writing excavates the faces of women in her family, silences in her community, and shapes their stories into a poetry that sings, and other times dances on the page.
All They Will Call You is the harrowing account of “the worst airplane disaster in California’s history,” which claimed the lives of thirty-two passengers, including twenty-eight Mexican citizens—farm workers who were being deported by the U.S. government.
Beneath the Spanish tracks the way that languages intersect and inform each other, and how language and music shapes experience. Moving across landscapes from Puerto Rico to Manhattan to Morocco, these poems are one man’s history and a song that begs to be performed.
Exuberant and socially engaged, reflective and healing, this collection of new work from the nation’s first Latino Poet Laureate is brimming with the wide-open vision and hard-won wisdom of a poet whose life and creative arc have spanned chasms of culture in an endless crossing, dreaming and back again.
Nearly a decade after his debut title, Santo de la Pata Alzada: Poems from the Queer/Xicano/Positive Pen (Evelyn Street Press), Lorenzo Herrera y Lozano returns with a collection of poems exploring queer Xicano desires, literal and mythical homeland(s), and brown bodies in perpetually active displacement. Sitting at the intersectional multiplicities of reminisced childhood pop culture, coquettishly amorphous Xicanidad, and defiantly claimed Mexicanidad, Amorcito Maricón basks in the inherent politic, inevitable heartbreak, and inescapable draw of brown on brown desire. Un libro para maricones and those who love us.
In this innovative work that uses grocery stores as a guiding motif, he deftly combines English and Spanish to explore his identity as an immigrant, naturalized citizen, son, brother, lover, graduate student.
Deer, arroyos, heron, pelican, dunlin–among other Gulf lives, Jiménez makes stays of the flora and fauna of the Texas Gulf shores, finding in them a current of questions and meanings in a time of tumult. As Jiménez renders the violent end to a long relationship, he makes notations for salt and mud, bird and hog, each creature: a lesson in how to let the world be enough. These poems touch the world not to take from it but to know it, to belong to it more fully. At once in mourning and in praise, The Possibilities of Mud offers a debut collection that is both poem-making as well as a taxonomy for making sense of loss, injustice, masculinity, and want.
Ruth Irupé Sanabria’s second collection of poetry, Beasts Behave In Foreign Land examines the internal landscape of a family confronting the psychological and emotional aftershocks of genocide and exile.
sombra : (dis)locate is a fitting title for León’s new collection. It hints at the shadows within history, languages, sexuality, loss, grief, and violence unveiled in poems that span countries, the enigmatic specter of Josephine Baker flouting conventions of respectability and race, and the daily brutalities that split people’s emotional cores like simple apples. These poems move with agility across pages into the shadows. León reminds us why the light can redeem us if we keep traveling and calling out to the people who will never stop looking when we are lost in the dark. – Tara Betts
This bilingual collection of poetry speaks of the duality of living in two countries.
A finalist for both the National Book Award and the National Book Critics Circle Award, Bright Dead Things examines the dangerous thrill of living in a world you must leave one day and the search to find something that is “disorderly, and marvelous, and ours.”
Seven creates a breathtaking world of external and internal landscapes defining the landmarks of home, culture, place, and personal history along the U.S.-Mexican border of El Paso, Texas and Ciudad Juarez.
Truly remarkable poetry draws new connections between the emotional, physical, and psychological landscapes through which our lives move. This is especially true of Matria, a stunning collection by Alexandra Lytton Regalado, who moves us among and between the intersections of motherhood and childhood, womanhood, and country-hood. With arresting language full of grace and empathy, these poems dimension the fluidity and complexity of these relationships as both witness and the witnessed, mother and child, native and foreigner, in both English and Spanish.
Cultural brujería, sacrilegious litanies, ritualized births, and letters from hearts and/or brains populate Rachel McKibben’s world in blud.
In Her Body and Other Parties, Carmen Maria Machado blithely demolishes the arbitrary borders between psychological realism and science fiction, comedy and horror, fantasy and fabulism. While her work has earned her comparisons to Karen Russell and Kelly Link, she has a voice that is all her own. In this electric and provocative debut, Machado bends genre to shape startling narratives that map the realities of women’s lives and the violence visited upon their bodies.
José Margarito, “the Singer,” escapes from slavery in nineteenth-century Ecuador, set in the coastal towns of Ecuador; an array of adventures.
The speaker of David Tomas Martinez’s poems steals cars, sits in understudy at the bar, fathers a child before seventeen, and works welding frigates, all with no reverence for literature with clean streets. Martinez’s youth as a Latino in the city is documented in Hustle as it moves from gang activity through his discovery of pornography to a failed suicide attempt on a crooked path toward self-understanding.
These are the best Americans, the worst Americans. In these stories (these cities, these people) there are labyrinths, rivers, wildernesses. Voices sound slightly different than expected. There’s humor, but it’s going to hurt.
The poems in Pablo Miguel Martínez’s debut collection are rooted deep in the “caliche-veined eternity” of South Texas. Plainspoken and often stark, they are the poet’s meditation on the ceaseless cycles of loss and love—and work and hope—that lead inevitably to “a place of unsorrowed serenity.”
The Jane and Bertha in Me is a Rubik’s Cube of Janes. Each poem is a smartly annotated, hauntingly revisionist homage to Jane Eyre. – Denise Duhamel
Matiella uses a unique brand of storytelling to reflect on her life and the lives of the women who influenced her. Each chapter deftly explores both personal experience and examination of primal archetypes in Hispanic femininity. Nevertheless, all women will recognize the kind of unavoidable female power she presents that interacts with both psyche and soul. Matiella’s deft wit illuminates their force, significance, and inspiration.
McLemore’s second novel is such a lush surprising fable, you half expect birds to fly out of the pages… McLemore uses the supernatural to remind us that the body’s need to speak its truth is primal and profound, and that the connection between two people is no more anyone’s business than why the dish ran away with the spoon. – Jeff Giles
Heresies is an invocation of Latin American and Caribbean culture, history, and spirituality. Through free verse and poetic forms, the collection is visually charged and sonically rich. The poems incorporate history, legend, and magical realism to create a cross-cultural baroque feeling. Heresies is witty, probing, transgressive, and carnivalesque.
Memories of the city as its traffic breaks, making gaps for words to stretch [collude] pop. Flows out of its limits into a great expanse, where contrasts bulwarking thought threaten to slide away. These poems warm, uncoil, slither across the page; only to cycle back cold as a desert night.
The Somnambulist tells, in fragmented parts, the story of the poet’s hustler uncle alongside her own story of becoming a poet. This is a new kind of writer’s memoir—or true crime story, or coming-of- age narrative, or family autobiography—one that navigates the tricky territory of multiple sub-genres with extraordinary skill, sly wit, and subversive splendor.
I Don’t Know Do You gives us 102 new ways to be brilliant in our failure. We also get love poems–to daytime fireworks, several feet of snow, and astonished frontiersmen. Montes’s poems unfold into unknowing, proving again and again that we can only underestimate our capacity for love and reinvention.
Yesenia Montilla’s poems cross fertilize space and time; linking the wilderness, the city, and an otherworld like a subway ride from uptown to downtown, cross town and back. Along the way, we don’t just switch trains, we switch stations of desire: the Dominican Republic is the blues, Ayiti/Haiti is jazz, hip hop is abuelita.
The autobiographical essays in The Girls in My Town create an unforgettable portrait of a family in Los Angeles. Reaching back to her grandmother’s childhood and navigating through her own girlhood and on to the present, Morales contemplates moments of loss and longing, truth and beauty, motherhood, and daughterhood.
The Siren World is a collection at once intensely personal and seamlessly universal.
Morín’s Patient Zero is full of life and its undeniable hungers. Claws, fins, mouths, and feathers populate a fanciful world: a man in a crowded market becomes a tree of butterflies; a mountain gives a feline yawn; grocery bags contain “milk for bones—salt for blood.” Meanwhile, at the edge of the fantastic, realism beckons. The buzzard stalks the tortoise, heartbreak sickens the living, and each beginning contains an end.
For its eye of the all-seeing crocodile half in dark waters and half in the prey-light of death and hunger, for its electric rush of love, its gambles with destiny, for its deep knowledge of borderlessness, the slippage of love and dissolution into something like Mystery makes this collection a rare magic. – Juan Felipe Herrera
Thirty years ago, The Little Death introduced Henry Rios, a gay, Latino criminal defense lawyer who became the central figure in a celebrated seven novel series. In a brilliant reimagination of The Little Death, Lay Your Sleeping Head retains all the complexity and elegance of the plot of the original novel but deepens the themes of personal alienation and erotic obsession that both honored the traditions of the American crime novel and turned them on their head.
This engaging historical novel for teens traces a family’s flight from the violence of the Mexican Revolution to a new life in the U.S.
In its playful and irreverent mash-up of voices and poetic traditions from across the Americas, Buzzing Hemisphere / Rumor Hemisférico imagines an alternative to the monolingualism of the U.S. literary and political landscape, and proposes a geo-neuro-political performance attuned to damaged or marginalized forms of knowledge, perception, and identity.
Wanderers and writers, gangbangers and lawyers, dreamers and devils. The King of Lighting Fixtures paints an idiosyncratic but honest portrait of Los Angeles, depicting how the city both entrances and confounds. Each story serves as a reflection of Daniel A. Olivas’s grand City of Angels, a “magical metropolis where dreams come true.”
A taste of life on the border from the perspective of a young woman of color struggling to write herself into existence.
A dreamoir—a narrative derived from the most malleable and revelatory details of one’s dreams, catalogued in bold detail. Bruja is a literary adventure through the boundaries of memoir, where the self is viewed from a position anchored into the deepest recesses of the mind.
In 4-Headed Woman, Adisa bravely explores and uncovers taboos about womanhood in a controlled and at times lyrical style laced with humor.
Through dream song and elegy, alternate takes and tempos, prizewinning poet Willie Perdomo’s third collection crackles with vitality and dynamism as it imagines the life of a percussionist, rebuilding the landscape of his apprenticeship, love, diaspora, and death.
Emily Pérez’s House of Sugar, House of Stone weaves Grimm’s Fairy Tales into the business of modern life—laptops and late nights with sleepless children—to explore an undercurrent of terror about living in a family.
Emmy Pérez’s poetry collection With the River on Our Face flows through the Southwest and the Texas borderlands to the river’s mouth in the Rio Grande Valley/El Valle. The poems celebrate communities, and ecology of the borderlands through lyric and narrative utterances, auditory and visual texture, chant, and litany that merge and diverge like the iconic river in this long awaited collection.
In these poems, Octavio Quintanilla measures displacement with language and grapples with the longing to begin anew, to return to what was left unsaid, undone. Redemption is not always possible in the geography of these poems, but there is always a sense of hope. And by this pulse we are guided, the poet’s unmistakable voice that, finally, clears the way so we may find our bearing.
Ascension explores the delicacy and the fragility of all relationships; not just the romantic ones in nature, but the ones we have with our family, friends, community, city, politics, nature, history, and ourselves.
The fifth collection from Oakland poet Barbara Jane Reyes, in the tradition of Audre Lorde and Theresa Hak Kyung Cha, Invocation to Daughters is a book of prayers, psalms, and odes for Filipina girls and women trying to survive and make sense of their own situations.
Chopper! Chopper! reflects the lives of Mexican Americans, immigrants, and la jotería–malfloras, jotos, and other rainbow communities–across many generations.
Alberto Rios, Arizona’s first Poet Laureate, casts an intense desert light on rich stories unfolding along the Mexico-U.S. border.
Rios confounds the relationship between author, speaker, and subject within various forms and, at times, across genre. He challenges the usefulness of poetry and stands upon oral histories to demystify California’s overlooked labor class. Rios invites the reader to enter Josefo’s world of memory, experience, and talk, of packinghouse mentors, storytelling grandmothers, parable-sharing plumbers, smooth talking truck drivers, and infinitely patient literature professors.
Karankawa is a collection that explores some of the ways in which we (re)construct our personal histories. Rich in family narratives, myths, and creation stories, these are poems that investigate passage—dying, coming out, transforming, being born—as well as the gaps that also reside in our stories, for, as Rocha suggests, the opportunity to create myths is provided by great silences.
Low Village explores the symbiotic relationship between dominant and submissive personalities—fathers and sons, hustlers and hoes, hunters and their human prey—characters consumed by ambition and wracked with guilt.
The conditions of rural poverty prove too much for Rodríguez’s family to bear, and he moves with his mother and three of his nine siblings across the border to McAllen, Texas. Now a resident of the “other side,” Rodríguez experiences the luxury of indoor toilets and gazes at television commercials promising more food than he has ever seen. But there is no easy passage into this brighter future. Poignant and lyrical, House Built on Ashes contemplates the promises, limitations, and contradictions of the American Dream.
This chapbook collection offers new poems from the prolific career of a community leader, activist, and healer.
The beloved teacher of spiritual wisdom and author of the phenomenal New York Times and international bestseller The Four Agreements takes readers on a mystical Toltec-inspired personal journey, introducing us to a deeper level of spiritual teaching and awareness.
A gay Latino’s intimate journey through addiction, human desire and broken love.
Poet, novelist, and essayist Erika L. Sánchez’s powerful debut poetry collection explores what it means to live on both sides of the border—the border between countries, languages, despair and possibility, and the living and the dead. Sánchez tells her own story as the daughter of undocumented Mexican immigrants and as part of a family steeped in faith, work, grief, and expectations.
When a bolt of lightning ignited a hilltop in the sleepy town of Yarnell, Arizona, in June of 2013, it set off a blaze that would grow into one of the deadliest fires in US history. The Fire Line is the story of the twenty men called the Granite Mountain Hotshots who sprang into action.
From undocumented men named Angel, to angels falling from the sky, Natalie Scenters-Zapico’s gripping debut collection, The Verging Cities, is filled with explorations of immigration and marriage, narco-violence and femicide, and angels in the domestic sphere.
The poems in Paraíso emerge from a mother’s death and follow the narrator as he explores the tools needed to survive his grief. Catholicism, family, good rum — these easy-at-hand things help, but the real medicine happens when the speaker pushes into the rainforest alone. Eschewing the typical, the collection becomes a celebration of hybridity — science fuses with religion, witchcraft joins with technology, and eventually grief transforms into belief.
Silva is a poet-curandera who “sings the body electric,” transforming suffering into song. She probes the ways that love, justice and forgiveness help heal our individual selves and our communities. I am profoundly grateful for ire’ne’s hard-won wisdom and poetic gifts. – Demetria Martinez
Giménez Smith’s poetic arsenal includes rapier-sharp wordplay mixed with humor, at times self-deprecating, at others an ironic comment on the postmodern world, all interwoven with imaginative language of unexpected force and surreal beauty.
In Analicia Sotelo’s debut collection of poetry, a young woman refuses to fail at love, and in doing so, fails in small ways until she realizes love’s not made for the perfectionist. Her poems explore femininity through an imaginative self-mythology that is crafted from history, folklore, art, and personal experience, rearing vulnerability into strength.
Sad Girl Poems delves into relationships with domestic violence, queer youth homelessness, & the suicide of a close friend.
In this second full-length from Tamayo bears the formal markings of the hypermodern in its deployment of digital, pop, and intertextual elements. Written after her first trip back to her native Colombia in 25 years, the book is indebted to Rihanna, Barthes, and Aimé Césaire, whose texts she mines voraciously.
No simple tourist trip, no three-hour tour, Vincent Toro’s carefully-structured Stereo.Island.Mosaic. draws the reader into lived experience of culture
Torres is nimble—surfing through memory, definition, and forms of social address. In this new collection, Torres offers some signature performance pieces for the first time in print. Ameriscopia reimagines New York City and its expansive inspirations, which for Torres capture the contradictions of America. Allusions to the Twin Towers, Coney Island hot dogs, and the Nuyorican Poet’s Cafe continuously recolor the pages.
Life in this family is fierce and absorbing, full of chaos and heartbreak and the euphoria of belonging completely to one another. From the intense familial unity felt by a child to the profound alienation he endures as he begins to see the world, this beautiful novel reinvents the coming-of-age story in a way that is sly and punch-in-the-stomach powerful.
Explosion Rocks Springfield is eighty one-page iterations of the following line: The Friday evening gas explosion in Springfield leveled a strip club next to a day care. Each iteration consists of analytical-philosophic queries, lyrical diffractions, and paranarrative documentary.
Dan Vera’s Speaking Wiri Wiri is a work of historical insight and wry wit, unexpectedly delightful and full of surprises as it meditates on the challenges of multiple identities, ethnicity, geographies of migration, familial displacement, popular history, and more.
Vértiz’s poems ask us to see Los Angeles—and all cities like it—as they have always been: an America of code-switching and reinvention that replaces erasure with lyric and fight.
Sometimes the grind of life in modern America sucks Latin@s dry: between the daily micro-aggressions and institutional racism, la gente find themselves drained of that essential chispa. At times like those, we need a Chicano blood transfusion like the one Edward Vidaurre injects straight into our souls in his most recent collection.
Rich Villar’s first book is a lyrical collection of love poems, and a great deal more. There are echoes here of Lorca and early Neruda, surreal, ecstatic, sensual, electrically charged. The poet not only praises his beloved; he celebrates the world around him, from Bustelo to the bossa nova, from the Triborough Bridge to Luquillo beach.
Emanuel Xavier’s newest book radiates in diverse directions, back into a past of New York club kid glamour and violence, into a family history of lost connections, and into loves forfeited and found-all of which the poet illumines with steady-eyed honesty. – David Groff
This gorgeous debut speaks with heart wrenching intimacy and firsthand experience to the hot button political issues of immigration and border crossings.
Four women, connected by birth, separated by secrets, struggling to reconnect. Mercedes Amado has raised and watched her three daughters grow into women. Celeste, fiercely intelligent and proud, has fled her youth and family in Los Angeles to financial independence in San Jose. Sylvia has immersed herself in the world of her two young daughters, while Nataly, the baby, waits tables in an upscale restaurant by night and works on her textile art by day.
Ruben Quesada (MFA, PhD) is author of Next Extinct Mammal, and translator of the early 20th century Spanish poet, Luis Cernuda, Exiled from the Throne of Night. He is Senior Editor of Queen Mob’s Tea House, Contributing Editor at the Chicago Review of Books, and Founder of the Latino Caucus, which meets annually at AWP. His writing and poetry films have been featured at the Poetry Foundation, the Art Institute of Chicago, Best American Poetry blog, The American Poetry Review, Southern Humanities Review, TriQuarterly, Stand, and elsewhere. He is creative writing faculty at UCLA Extension Writers' Program. Find him @rubenquesada.