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Here’s The List Of Latino Poets You Should Know For National Poetry Month

Tonight I can write the saddest lines,” wrote Pablo Neruda. “I loved her, and sometimes she loved me too.” Reading that as a kid, not knowing a thing about romantic passion, felt like falling in love for the first time. Neruda got me hooked on poems of love.

The words of Sandra Cisneros helped me discover the woman that longed to break free: “They say I’m a beast. / And feast on it. When all along / I thought that’s what a woman was.”

These poets, and so many others, beautifully articulate the essence of every emotion imaginable, and can describe the minutiae of everyday life in a way that makes life worth living.

So, every April when National Poetry Month rolls around — which has been officially recognized every April since 1996 — I try to give them as much as love as their words have given me.

Here —in their own words — are a few incredible emerging and established Latinx poets that are worth celebrating this month..

Melissa Lozada-Oliva

The work of Melissa Lozada-Oliva — a Brooklyn-based poet — probes all things Latina, which explores everything from hair removal to body image. She is the author of three chapbooks, including “Plastic Pajaros,” “Rude Girl is Lonely Girl!” and “peluda.”

Yosimar Reyes 

Yosimar Reyes, an undocumented poet and activist from Guerrero, Mexico, has B.A in Creative Writing from San Francisco State University and is an Arts Fellow at Define American. His poems reflect on migration and sexuality. His first collection of poetry titled “For Colored Boys Who Speak Softly…” included a collaboration with artist Carlos Santana.

Vanessa Jimenez Gabb

Brooklynite Vanessa Jimenez Gabb is the author of “Images for Radical Politics,” and “midnight blue” and “Weekend Poems.” She received her MFA in Creative Writing —Poetry from CUNY Brooklyn College. In 2012, she founded the literary project, Five Quarterly. Currently, she teaches at Newark Academy and for Brooklyn Poets.

Suzi Garcia

Suzi Garcia, a Peruvian-American writer from Arkansas, has an MFA in Creative Writing with minors in Screen Cultures and Gender Studies. Suzi is also an editor at Noemi Press.

Marcelo Hernandez Castillo

Marcelo Hernandez Castillo, a native of Zacatecas, Mexico, is the first undocumented student to earn an MFA at the University of Michigan. He is the author of the “DULCE,” winner of the 2017 Drinking Gourd Poetry Prize. “Cenzontle” was released this year and his memoir, “Children of the Land” is forthcoming.

Jasminne Mendez

Jasmine Mendez pretty much does it all. This Dominican-American poet is also a writer, an actress, an educator, and activist. She released her memoir “Island of Dreams” in 2013. Her latest book “Night-Blooming Jasmin(n)e” is out this month.

Ruben Quesada

Chicago-based poet Ruben Quesada in an editor at the “Chicago Review of Books” and “Queen Mob’s Tea House.” His latest poetry collection is titled “Next Extinct Mammal” and is editing the forthcoming volume of essays “Latino Poetics.”

Xochitl Morales

The story California teen Xochitl Morales hit the internet in 2016 after her poem “Latino-Americanos: The Children of An Oscuro Pasado” went viral. When she’s not writing poerty, Xochitl is performing with Mariachi Mestizo. Last year, she released an album featuring 16 poems, that you can find here.

Kristiana Rae Colón

Co-director of the #LetUsBreathe CollectiveKristiana Rae Colón is a poet, playwright, actor, and educator. Her plays have been performed throughout the country and aboard.

Steven Sanchez

Steven Sanchez has degrees in philosophy and creative writing from California State University, Fresno, and has released two chapbooks, “To My Body” and “Photographs of Our Shadows.” His latest, released this year, is titled “Phantom Tongue.”

Javier Zamora

I first came across the story of Javier Zamora in the pages of the New Yorker. His book “Unaccompanied” was released last year, and just like the title says, his work deals with migration, identity, and his own solo journey from El Salvador to the U.S.

Lorna Dee Cervantes

Feminist Chicana, Lorna Dee Cervantes wrote her first collection of poems when she was 15 years old. In 1981, she released her debut book “Emplumada.” She’s released at least ten books since then and has won even more awards including the Lila Wallace-Reader’s Digest Award, the Paterson Prize for Poetry and a Latino Literature Award.

Elizabeth Acevedo

Elizabeth Acevedo is probably one of the most recognized poets today, and for good reason. This Washington-based Dominicana is a National Slam Champion, a Beltway Grand Slam Champion, and her poetry has been published in “Puerto Del Sol,” “Callaloo,” “Poet Lore,” “The Notre Dame Review,” among others. This year she released her debut novel “The Poet X.”


READ: Ernesto Galarza Is The Chicano Pioneer That You Probably Never Read About In Your History Books

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This Woman’s Viral Poem Explores The Cultural Stigma Attached To LGBTQ Identities

Fierce

This Woman’s Viral Poem Explores The Cultural Stigma Attached To LGBTQ Identities

@2shotsofmely / Twitter

We all know how annoying family can be, nitpicking and offering opinions about how we choose to live our lives. Sometimes, though, our relatives’ perspectives are more than frustrating—they can be hurtful, causing us to question and doubt our place in the world. For many of us, it may be really difficult to address these issues with our loved ones, and we might often need to process these complex situations on our own before we can make any progress within our relationships. For Twitter user Hot Girl Scholar (@2shotsofmely), art was part of this process. She addressed some deep family conflict through poetry, and y’all, Twitter was shook.

According to her pinned tweet, @2shotsofmely and her family emigrated to the US from the Dominican Republic when she was seven years old. In May of this year, she graduated cum laude from Clark University with a BA in English and a minor in Education, ecstatic to dedicate her degree to immigrant and first-generation students. By embracing her role as a “hood girl, educator, and undercover poet,” @2shotsofmely is “living [her] mama’s wildest dreams”—although the poems that have electrified Twitter focus on some hard-to-swallow cultural viewpoints, reiterated by su madre y su abuela.

In poetry, the author of the poem is not always the speaker of the poem, but because of the caption in @2shotsofmely’s post (“Heard it so much I wrote poems about it”), it is clear that these poems—displayed on the walls of Elevated Thought, a Lawrence-based art and social justice organization—are written from her perspective. 

In one poem, “Negra Yo, Pero El No!,” @2shotsofmely acknowledges the hypocrisy (and the shadowy nature of racism and colorism) that defines how her mother reacts to a hypothetical boyfriend: based on the title, we know that @2shotsofmely’s mother is black, yet she proclaims that if @2shotsofmely ever dated a moreno, he must have a thin nose—la nariz fina—green eyes like @2shotsofmely’s grandfather, and “good hair.” In other words, he must not have black features. Why? “Because hay que refinar la raza.”

In the other poem, “LGBTQue?,” @2shotsofmely explores the cultural stigma attached to LGBTQ identities, affirming that her grandmother would “prefer [we] open [our] legs for all the men in the barrio before we walk around with a sister in our arms.”

The original tweet has garnered over 2.3k likes and 900 retweets—people can’t stop gassing @2shotsofmely’s badass display of honesty, the simultaneous pride in and critique of her roots. Several people expressed solidarity, citing events from their own lives that mirrored @2shotsofmely’s poetry.

This Twitter user really related to @2shotsofmely’s experience on the receiving end of her mother’s words.

This Latina responded in Spanish, explaining that her own grandmother married a white man para “mejorar la raza,” but affirmed that it wasn’t her fault—this point of view, according to @ditasea88, is a remnant of colonization.

This Twitter user applauded “LGBTQue?” for its resonance and truth.

Her poems even moved some folks to tears.

Although each of these tweets suggests a common experience which is largely negative, the response to @2shotsofmely’s poetry was rich with compassion—not only for those other Twitter users who share that experience, but for the madres y abuelas whose lives were very different than ours, and who had to make different decisions as a result. History is complex and difficult to synthesize without a broad contextual understanding, and @2shotsofmely’s work draws attention to how cultural patterns from the past can leave a dark impact on the present. However, alongside the criticism and pain at the core of these poems, there is something else: a sense of defiance and hope.

Now, in the midst of the political chaos within our country, it is especially important to celebrate the victories of individuals and groups creating supportive platforms for folks—particularly people of color—to express themselves. It is always exciting to see expressions of Latinidad—from art to poetry to a bomb Insta selfie—spark conversation and communion, even if people are relating about moments that have left them hurt or bruised. In a way, this type of conversation creates a sense of camaraderie, amistad—a feeling of familia.  

And although a lot of Latina familias struggle with antiquated viewpoints (like those presented in @2shotsofmely’s poems), times are changing, and cultural expectations are becoming more inclusive to Latinx people with a range of diverse identities. Often, the more difficult aspects of our upbringing lead us to create meaningful work and connect with others who can relate to us—@2shotsofmely’s poetry is a great example of how intergenerational trauma can produce beauty, connection, and personal growth when you honor yourself and your dreams. @2shotsofmely, you go, girl!

Here Are 9 LGBTQ+ Poets Who Will Speak To Your Soul

Culture

Here Are 9 LGBTQ+ Poets Who Will Speak To Your Soul

It’s Pride month and we all celebrate in different ways. Some of us feel our best when we pick up a protest sign and march against the homophobes in office. Others of us take four tequila shots before dropping the drab clothes that burden us and take to the streets in a rainbow flag cape. Others still, pour the hearts out in prose and poetry. 
However you plan to express yourself, you can take part in queer Latinx expressions in the quiet moments before the parades. Here’s the best of the best out there today.

1. Rafael Campo

CREDIT: “Rafael Campo” Digital Image. Poets.org. 15 June 2018.

Cubano Rafael Campo isn’t just a poet. He’s also a doctor at Harvard Medical School, which leads him to describe himself as a “a mutt, a mongrel, a kind of happy monster.” His work aims to take ownership over the sanitized medical jargon that affects people in the deepest, most personal ways.

from The Changing Face of AIDS:  V. Elegy for the AIDS Virus

by Rafael Campo

CREDIT: Rafael Campo

Campo’s primary care practice serves mostly Latinos, LGBTQ+ people and people with HIV. This man, this myth, this legend, actually “prescribes” poetry and leads poetry workshops for patients.

2. Sonia Guiñansaca

CREDIT: @soniag / Instagram

Sonia Guiñansaca is an Ecuadorian, now New York City transplant, poet and activist. She’s performed her work at The Met, The Nuyorican Poets Cafe (which we all should be at right now), and more. That means migration, climate justice, queer/femme identity and the role of art in social movements has reached the mainstream.

America Runs on Immigrants

by Sonia Guiñansaca

CREDIT: “IMG_3595.JPG” Digital Image. Sonia Guinasaca. 15 June 2018.

Sonia was born in Ecuador and migrated to NYC to be reunited with her parents when she was 5 years old. Her experience as an undocumented immigrant seeps through her writing in rich, gut-wrenching and powerful punches.

3. Ruben Quesada

CREDIT: “RQ April 2018.jpg” Digital Image. Ruben Quesada. 15 June 2018.

Quesada grew up in South Central Los Angeles and is now the co-founder of Stories & Queer among many other publications. Reading love poems written from the perspective of your gender.

Last Photograph of My Parents

by Ruben Quesada

CREDIT: Ruben Quesada

If we could all paint a picture como esa, how much more complete could we feel? By we, I mean me.

4. Joshua Jennifer Espinoza

CREDIT: @sadqueer4life / Twitter

Espinoza is a trans woman living in California. Follow her on Twitter @sadqueer4life for some of the sassiest, homo tweets on the interwebz.

This Is What Makes Us Worlds

by Joshua Jennifer Espinoza

CREDIT: Joshua Jennifer Espinoza

Our love eats the deadly sounds men make when they see how much magic we have away from them.

Just had to say it again for the people in the back.

It Is Important To Be Something

by Joshua Jennifer Espinoza

CREDIT: Joshua Jennifer Espinoza

You don’t know Espinoza’s work if you don’t know this one. Being a trans person of color puts you at more risk than almost anyone in America and we need to

5. Denice Frohman

CREDIT: @denicefrohman / Instagram

Denice is a born and raised, queer af, New Yorican who has been bringing her work to the world since she can remember. She’s passionate about working with young writers and was even Program Director at The Philly Youth Poetry Movement. 

“Dear Straight People”

by Denice Frohman

CREDIT: Button Poetry / YouTube

Sorry, fam, you really need to hear her work in slam mode. Listen to “Accents,” and try to watch it with your mom if you can.

6. Natalie Diaz

CREDIT: “Natalie Diaz” Digital Image. Poets.org. 15 June 2018.

Born in Fort Mojave Indian Village in California, Natalie Diaz is Mojave, queer, and talented af. Like a true queer badass, Diaz went to college on a full athletic scholarship for basketball and traveled through Europe and Asia before returning for her MFA.

Grief Work

by Natalie Diaz

CREDIT: Natalie Diaz

The last breaks my heart like a clay jar of wine. It’s so easy to relate to this feeling of finally coming to terms with the full picture of your sexuality. It’s silk and silt, and it’s so, so good.

7. Nancy Lorenza Green

CREDIT: Untitled. Digital Image. La Bloga. 16 June 2018.

Nancy Lorenza Green is an Afro-Chicana writer, musician and speaker. Her music is dedicated to her ancestors and the indigenous peoples of Mexico.

Queer

by Nancy Lorenza Green

CREDIT: Nancy Lorenza Green

Don’t you love when religious people, friends, your parents tell you they love you, but don’t “get in my face about it.” It being the queer. Hey, hi, hola todo el mundo, I am who I am, and I love who I am.

8. Liliana Valenzuela

CREDIT: Untitled. Digital Image. Liliana Valenzuela. 16 June 2018.

Liliana was born and raised in Mexico City and has spent much of her life conducting award winning translations of the works of Sandra Cisneros, Julia Alvarez, and others.

Fairy Dust

by Liliana Valenzuela

CREDIT: Liliana Valenzuela

If you don’t own Latinas: An Anthology of Struggles & Protests in 21st Century USA, released on the one year anniversary of the Women’s March in 2018. Her work was featured in the LGBTQ Struggles for Human Rights chapter.

9. Christopher Soto “Loma”

CREDIT: Loma. Digital Image. Remezcla. 16 June 2018.

Queer punk and prison abolitionist, Loma’s been busy cofounding the Undocupoets Campaign. They recently graduated with an MFA from NYU and has a forthcoming book called Sad Girl Poems.

Rework

by Christopher Soto

CREDIT: Christopher Soto

Oof. I’m sobbing. I’m not worthy of putting words on this page. Reread that again and let it marinate.

Want More? Get the first ever anthology of Queer Poets of Color.

CREDIT: @denicefrohman / Instagram

You can find it on Amazon, and I’d tell you all about it, but I’m still waiting on that 2-Day free shipping. 😉 Happy Pride!