“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..
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, 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.”
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.
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.”
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 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.”