Summer Must Reads: Latin@ Poets
The Latin@ canon is vast, rich, and important because of how these writers uniquely explore their identities through themes of cultural inheritance, geographical location, and being multilingual. As these writers carve out their places, we see a wonderful diversity of voice, style, and continuous storytelling. My list of favorites is always growing, but here are a few Latin@ writers I think you should check out. Enjoy!
Luis Alberto Urrea –Tijuana Book of the Dead
In Urrea’s collection, we are sent traveling through places such as Skid Row, East Los Angeles, and The Mojave Desert as they interact with the border town of Tijuana. Through playful and confessional language, Urrea really propels the characteristics of these places, which offers the reader a sense of this poet’s complex identity rooted in “border country”. Urrea’s decision to alternate between Spanish and English poems only further enriches the reader’s understanding of border life.
David Campos – Furious Dusk
In this wonderful book, Campos reflects on memories of childhood, family, and marriage, which then become these visceral images that chisel out an emotional state. Compos’ focused attention on detail is engaging and leaves the reader wanting more. One of my favorites from this collection is a poem, “Addressing a Letter to my Father” because of the intertwining of nature, the representation of a father, and a speaker wrestling with the concept of absence. I am in awe of how the voice of this book pierces through time, memory, and settles in preservation.
Natalie Scenters-Zapico – The Verging Cities
Scenters-Zapico’s debut collection explores how lives are altered in the verging cities of Juarez and El Paso. The visual layout of these poems is striking and captures the speaker’s concern for both literal and metaphorical bridges. What I found most intriguing is how these poems cause the reader to deeply consider how various types of division, borders, and separation affect identity. This is definitely a must-read book.
Eduardo Corral – Slow Lightning
Corral’s collection uniquely focuses on Chicano identity through code switching in different spaces. We also get these gripping memories of a father explored by an understanding of the body—how it is exhausted and experiences times of renewal. This is a great book of magical realism and easy to get submerged in.
Melisa Garcia is the Managing Editor of Blue Mesa Review