Explore the poetic talent and figures that Latinx Americans have shared with readers to celebrate Latinx and Hispanic Heritage Month.
Latinx and Hispanic Heritage Month celebrates and centers the lives and experiences, both historical and current, of Latinx America. According to NBC News, the Latinx population accounts for more than half of the United States’ population with approximately 62.1 million people living in the United States. Ever growing, Latinx America is rich with cultural history, diversity, accomplishments, leaving a unique and important mark on US history and culture.
Let us take an in depth look into the poetic talent and figures that Latinx Americans have shared with readers.
“Perhaps once day you touch the young branch / of something beautiful. & it grows & it grows” from “Elegy” by Aracelis Girmay
Aracelis Girmay is an award-winning poet, the recipient of the Whiting Award for poetry in 2015. Her poetry explores the duality of vulnerability and strength and challenges the traditional poetic form by prompting readers to question and reexamine our relation to structures and powers in place. Girmay’s poetry takes readers on a transformational journey that poses identity and emotion as catalysts for change. Her work includes three poetry collections: Teeth (2007), Kingdom Animalia (2011), and The Black Maria (2016).
“Looking for what / The old discarded / Some time back, / I struck a small fire / And stepped back” from “The Cellar” by Gary Soto
Gary Soto is an essential figure in Chicano literature with a career spanning over forty years. He is a poet and author and often uses his personal experiences of growing up in Mexican American communities as inspiration in his writing. Soto’s poetry is visceral and charges with a personal identity of growing up in his community, cemented through magical storytelling, empathy, and masterful figurative language. Known for his prose and novels, Soto has also published poetry collections; here are a couple: The Elements of San Joaquin (1977), Neighborhood Odes (1992), and One Kind of Faith (2003).
I like the lady horses best, / how they all make it look easy, / like running 40 miles per hour / is as fun as taking a nap, or grass” from “How to Triumph Like a Girl” by Ada Limón
Ada Limón is a talented poet that transfixes readers through her vibrant use of metaphor and her mastery of voice. She is careful with her words and reflects the mutable forces of humanity and the innate fragility of life. Limón narrates with a personal familiarity and draws the reader into traveling her poetry alongside her. Limón’s recent poetry collections are Sharks in the River (2010), Bright Dead Things (2015), and The Carrying (2018).
“Let me call my anxiety, desire, then. / Let me call it, a garden.” from “From the Desire Field” by Natalie Diaz
Natalie Diaz, a Mojave and a member of the Gila River Indian community, is a poet, MacArthur Fellow, and Pulitzer winner. Her poetry studies life and identity from the perspective of the Indigenous person, allowing the unwanted to live and want. Diaz’s writing allows for love and grief to exist symbiotically and brings life and desire into the forgotten and silenced. Through her poetry, we begin to identify a language that ruptures our perspective on emotional grief and love as well as the way we belong within our familiar and unfamiliar structures. Diaz’s collection includes When My Brother Was an Aztec (2012) and Postcolonial Love Poem (2020), which was the winner of the Pulitzer Prize in Poetry in 2021.
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