22 Books by Latinx Poets From the First Half of 2023
If you're like me, the flood of social media content can quickly erase the memory of an exciting book announcement. In an effort to remember, I began keeping track of forthcoming poetry books by Latinx writers in an excel sheet as I saw them so I'd have an easy way to look at what's coming out and books I might want to buy, review, or get from the library.
I love a good poetry book list. My favorite lists include poets I know and love as well as poets I have yet to read. To place an emphasis on community and reiterate how important it is that we champion each other’s work, I have included a blurb or line from a review about the book. Though I have not captured all the books by Latinx poets from the first half of this year, I hope I've provided a solid list of books for you to seek out. I encourage you to support these writers: buy their books, request them at your local library, tell your friends about them, and/or write reviews or interview these poets.
In late winter, I'll cover the second half of 2023. If you want to take a peek at what's coming out, here's my excel sheet.
An Invitation: We're starting an LLB2 Book Club! Rather than everyone reading the same book, we want to encourage you to read any of the books on this list and then send us a 2-5 sentence response/review of one or more book by September 19, 2023. We’ll then share the responses from everyone in a Book Club post which will go up in October.
Email your Book Club submissions to us at letraslatinasblog2 [at] gmail [dot] com.
"López tenderly revels in pop materiality and rasquacheria. Nerve Curriculum shapeshifts and chants from the liminal world of yesterday: a world of baseball, corner shops, quartz, and bullets. This collection is a significant contribution to the vanguard of poetry in that it also features a thrilling set of verse-scenes that disrupt conventional notions of persona. López is a brilliant stylist whose sentences swing for the "stars that...polish each plank and plume."
– Carmen Giménez, author of Be Recorder
University of Notre Dame Press
“Auto/Body by Vickie Vértiz is a rebellion against violence and colonization. ‘Rights to land that was never / yours Now you dig your hands into teenage girls.’ Her linguistic virtuosity challenges, cajoles, and questions repressive attitudes. She playfully engages metaphor, paradox, and satire. Vértiz is a bold, strong voice. ‘I’m not afraid. In this sparkle, in the middle of all of us, I am / not afraid to burn down this and every song.’”
—Sheryl Luna, author of Magnificent Errors
Translated By David Ruano
Henry Holt and Co.
"So many poems in Promises of Gold by José Olivarez play with entertaining contradictions as they explore desire and fulfillment in the speaker’s complicated relationships with countries and cultures, as well as with lovers, friends, and family."
—Diego Báez, Harriet Books
"Carolina Ebeid’s Dauerwunder: a brief record of facts is distinguished in its sincere and unbroken attention toward the logistics of experience..."
—Cindy Juyoung Ok, Harriet Books
University of Arizona Press
"In every beginning, there is a river that entices with its generational wisdom, its own invocations, its own knowledge that what will come is what has been. Lotería: Nocturnal Sweepstakes alchemizes Lotería symbology as vessels for myth, migration, and becoming. What belongs to centuries of play and divination is also seen anew in this text; we learn how even a sound can cause a room to wither. Poems arising from archetypical cards blazon out with new relevance; The Milk and The Customs Office have as much to say as The Wall, as much about chaos and loss as they offer moments when the human experience, its fullness, becomes universal. ‘But how do I tell the builders / I don’t want grey cement / attaching me to the ground?’ This book reminds us that the drums of war continue to beat their fear and devastation into one’s bones even after the body has risen to the sky, leaving runways of scattered articles of life. What we leave behind in hopes of peace! Injustice waits when you land and caws your name in front of its crow ‘collection of panicked deer eyes.’ The game plays on, and these poems invite a gamble: read and you just might change your life. The river will be there, at the beginning, and it may become the rain within you.”
—Raina J. León, author of black god mother this body
"That which cannot be destroyed - so it is, this is Urrea's Piedra Tao, Urrea's third eye swiveling across the cosmos & canyons, timeless in "this kernel of corn," an endless spiraling prayer of the rezanderas, an inky rosario of vision heat, caminatas, a sitting on the "oldest stone on the earth," as he writes he throws his arms up, cracks open his chest to the night stars and the sacred blaze of the "angel factory" - he chants, he whispers, tender and ragged on the "curve of cerulean blue" the poems, the book. The "Piedra," "arises "wild and free," this is ocean magic, restitched sizzling bullets of Zapata, you will eat seashell and taste "Belgian stamps," you will lean on wild wolves, smell their pelts, you will "feed iguanas," you will eat at the restaurant of Urrea's mysteries, unlock their ancient honeyed lips and smear your face upon them and their shadows will come to you and you will enter the life and lives of the blinking elements of Piedra consciousness forever. I absolutely love this book, these poems, these short-line and long-line, night and dawn painted teachings. An incredible pyramid and temple of word magic. Bravissimo! No doubt, no return."
-Juan Felipe Herrera, Poet Laureate of the United States, Emeritus
University of Akron Press
"With crystalline precision, Jenny Sadre-Orafai’s Dear Outsiders immerses us in the dream-logic of childhood. A strange, surreal plunge into underwater domesticity, orphanhood, and grief, Sadre-Orafai’s lyric prose is a tidal force, weaving a syntax that pushes and pulls the reader through the terror of absence and estrangement. Spoken through a plural first-person we, Sadre-Orafai invents a grammar of connected memory and collective loss, the act of remembering itself a fugue state in which the undertow of grief “is the rip that sweeps bodies under and into [our chests].” A singular, haunting collection."
—Vanessa Angélica Villareal, author of Beast Meridian
“What does it mean to refract and be a refraction of the world we inhabit? In Some of the Light, Tim Z. Hernandez reminds us that memory is only a confluence of our desires—to hold on—to rebuild from the intimacies of loss toward a reclamation of self. He cleaves open language—with all its gorgeous failures.”
—Felicia Zamora, author of Quotient
“To read Amanda Galvan Huynh’s poetry is to remember the scent of my mother’s kitchen, the beat of cumbias and the trills of accordions, and the weight of family stories told in the language of pain and silence. In poems both fluid and powerful, Huynh demonstrates the hard-won struggle to become yourself—to own your language, culture, and sexuality when you’ve inherited more wounds than gifts from your mother and your mother's mothers. Huynh writes, ‘Bless…The hands that may have/never planned on being/a mother and the ones/that feared being enough./Bless the hands of mothers/who never had one to follow,’ and in passages like this, Where My Umbilical is Buried becomes an act of learning to mother oneself, free oneself, love oneself. ¡Poeta brava!”
—ire’ne lara silva, author of Cuicacalli/House of
Four Way Books
"Rigoberto González writes a richly detailed poetry, with strangely evocative landscapes, insightful appraisals of body and soul, and unpredictable narratives, sometimes set in Mexico, sometimes in California, sometimes places in his heart. His sense of wonder is magical and his personality evident — this is him, a poet who can claim a cadence like no other. A true and wildly engaging master."
—Gary Soto, author of Meatballs for the People: Proverbs to Chew On
“Kimberly Reyes has written an innovative and magnetic book. Each poem spirals beautifully by itself but when I finished reading, I realized I had encountered and entered new architecture. Here, thinking radiates to illuminate the ‘absorbing ghosts’ of the self and the familial and the ‘living shadows’ of oppressive historical forces. Here, the language is lyrical, layered, and spectral. Here, the ‘hyphen is a rejection of negative space.’ Reyes is an astonishingly gifted poet and this book enlarges and complicates what the page can hold back, reveal.”
—Eduardo Corral, author of Guillotine
"This is a debut of linguistic and emotional luminosity, surefire craft, and ready-set-go integrity. Relishing this riveting and moving chapbook, I’m reminded that Gemini, the restless third sign of the zodiac, is associated with savvy, variety, and social flair, and it’s hard to imagine an up-and-coming writer more fully engaged, more vibrant and alert than Bianca Pérez."
—Cyrus Cassells, 2021-2022 Texas Poet Laureate
“Amapolasong makes me want to have libro breath, breath made from reading, saying, and singing the jaunty, wry and wise Star-Spangled Spanglish captured by poeta, Jacinto Jesús Cardona. These pages are a warm and uplifting Chicano embrace offered by the unique and singular lexicon of this true poeta de la gente. Cardona delivers a lyrical memoir novella set as histories and testimonios essential to understand the region of South Texas, filled with characters like the Number One Small-Town Fry Cook, Don Anguiano, el mayor piscador, and the poet himself appearing in a number of poems, as a teenage bookish bato who struggles with baseball, but not with his khakis, his joyful curiosity, or his sparkling spinners. This is a book that opens the door the magical voice-world unique to the language of our bilingual people, and its hard truths are hard-won with so much tenderness for a people and so much music in its tenderness. Lleno de encantos, these poems will keep readers of all ages inspired and wondering what magical word-paquete will star-spangle-sparkle up the next line. This word-mundo is a creative festival of poems that forms an añil bath for anyone needing a thought-cleanse from too much of today’s muck and mugrero.”
—NATALIA TREVIÑO, VirginX
Red Hen Press
“This remarkable collection migrates from outward to inward—ekphrastic poems charged with ars resistencia to biographical poems of childhood wonder, teen rebelliousness, middle age dreams. Throughout, we are immersed in the ‘morphology of dream, the moonmilk of words.’ Cárdenas loves language—each turn of phrase radiates the power of the word to mean, resonate, and transcend. These poems, like a ‘flatbed full of cempazuchil,’ light the way.”
—Valerie Martínez, author of Count
Primeros Libros (La Impresora Press)
A derivative poetry collection in Spanish from Portnoy Brimmer's book, To Love an Island,
"Me gusta pensar que Que tiemble es exactamente eso, un aleteo bello que signa la posibilidad de un Puerto Rico justo y libre."
—Eddie Ortiz, The Book Geek
World Stage Press
“Huitzilopochtli is the Mexica/Aztec energy for willpower—to overcome, to insist and resist, following the ever-rising sun, which regularly overcomes the dark shadowy almost deathlike grip of night. This book of poems carries that same energy against the dark powers that try to stop our own rising, to end our ‘sunlight,’ to destroy the spirit to outlast. Thank you, Estela Victoria-Cordero, for persisting.”
—Luis J. Rodriguez, author of The Concrete River and Borrowed Bones
“In The Rendering, Cody pays homage to Francisco X. Alarcón and Juan Felipe Herrera, two of our most important Latinx multilingual experimentalists who have pushed the poem into new visual and mystical territories. Yet Cody builds on what these brilliant artists have done by creating work that is so singular in its vision, that is impossible to classify or pin down, that is so beautifully complex and miraculous as it mines the histories of migration and settlement and property and seizure. Here cultural and environmental devastations and displacements are indexed and mapped to shape a narrative that is personal, communal, spiritual, lexical, lyrical, translational, material, multi-modal and off-the-page-virtual. This is mind blowing art for our past and future apocalypse.”
—Daniel Borzutzky, author of The Performance
of Becoming Human
New Delta Review
"'This is the future' is what I kept saying to myself while reading Aerik Francis’ MISEDUCATION. This is a radical contemporary love letter to the queer BIPOC lineage that reminds us of the importance of community, the expansiveness of family, and of course, the power of both resilience and resistance in taking back what is rightfully ours. Francis’ speaker carries the greatest internal strength through this high confrontation and abolition of irrelevant canonical standards, such as 'objective beauty.' I’ve been waiting for this collection. I’m in awe of what Francis does to language, through its decolonization, as well as its infinite innovation. Through textures and hybridity, their voice has simultaneously redefined what a collection can do, while paying homage to the critical voices who came before them. Francis is an artist who will keep pushing poetry anew—there are absolutely no limitations—this is an important book."
—Dorothy Chan, author of BABE
“With The Cut Point Rodrigo Toscano holds ground as one of the great civilizational poets of our time. Not just social, dictional, or interruptive—although it is all those things—this book is entangled in the symbolic and formal roots of how we imagine our collective achievements and bury the liability of our shared failures. Labor, architecture, taxation, trade, expansionism, industry, climatic and geological impact, and all the rest of the artefactual state find situated meditations in the biting deep time and often gorgeously sardonic planetarity of these poems. Toscano’s The Cut Point carves clarity into the immensity of its object, the civilizing process itself.”
—Edgar Garcia, author of Signs of the Americas
"Dream of Xibalba by Stephanie Adams-Santos is an epic poem that tests the boundaries of life and death, reality and the dream world, ancestors and spirits and ghosts."
—Sofía Aguilar, HipLatina
"Limbolandia arrives to remind us that we continue to cross, be it along the US/Mexican border, ordering in a Frankfurt, Germany restaurant, during a desert hallucinated crucifixion, on a bus in London, England, in a morgue, or from the longing for another. It is in this perpetual passage that Esteban Rodriguez writes to remember that regardless of exclusion, inclusion, or absence, there is a transformation in our humanity through that movement. The poet conjures startling imagery and tenderness as "flower petals: forget-me-nots, orchids, rhododendrons" are pulled from "the wound" and manage to spill "dead butterflies" from the mouths of the dead "like communion wafers." He applies the surreal to guide us toward understanding our existence, yet also invites us into open love letters that become sites to re-assert longing and "move with gestures our tongues won't feel the need to interpret." Rodriguez is a poet with a coiled verse, simultaneously at the precipice of strike and stillness, allowing language to absorb the speed of the world and uncover moments for "praising ... the privileged shadows that don't let themselves be erased" as we await our next crossing."
—Anthony Cody, author of The Rendering
Nothing for June so here's a sneak peak at July
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“If a pigeon’s wings are a timestamp then Reyes points us toward the intimacy nestled between each thrust. On the journey that is Puerto Rican history, Papi Pichón‘s mythology boasts both omnipresence and oppression, resistance and culpability. Following in the footsteps of Pedro Pietri, Reyes unearths the complexities of diaspora by offering not just a retelling, but a revision of history, one steeped in the lived experiences of Puerto Ricans. Reyes creates a larger than life figure in Papi Pichón, not to uncritically stand above, but to show how even our myths are weighed down by a nuanced heritage. In this collection, Puerto Ricans labor, love, fail, dance, hurt, box, die, and fly. Papi Pichón becomes a translator, a truth teller, a companion, a metaphor for our continued survival.”
— Noel Quiñones, Emmy Award Winning Artist
Laura Villareal is the author of Girl’s Guide to Leaving (University of Wisconsin Press, 2022). She earned her MFA at Rutgers University—Newark and has been awarded fellowships and scholarships from the Stadler Center for Poetry and Literary Arts, National Book Critics Circle’s Emerging Critics Program, Bread Loaf Writers' Conference, and the Dobie Paisano Fellowship Program at University of Texas-Austin. Her writing has appeared in Guernica, AGNI, The American Poetry Review, and elsewhere.