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  • Laura Villareal

34 Books by Latinx Poets From the Second Half of 2023

The second half of 2023 did not disappoint. As you might recall, I published a list of books from the first half of the year. Trying to capture as many books by Latinx poets published this past year has brought me great joy. Sometimes it feels like there are very few books being released each year by Latinx poets, but it simply isn’t true. It’s merely a trick of algorithms and well-planned and funded publicity campaigns. My first list included 22 books and inevitably I missed quite a few that came out during the first half of the year. Notably, Tripas by Brandom Som which was a National Book Award finalist. The heartening fact is that there are many Latinx poets publishing which feels like cause for celebration as we end this year. 


Creating these lists have been a sort of study revealing who publishes Latinx poets. I’d like to express gratitude to indie press champions like FlowerSong Books, Get Fresh Books, and Mouthfeel Press who consistently publish our poetry. The process also allowed me to learn about Alegria Publishing which is entirely dedicated to publishing Latinx voices. 


I have already begun my list for 2024 so take a sneak peek and let me know if you have a book coming out. Our email is letraslatinasblog2 [at] gmail [dot] com.


 

July



Unbound Editions


“In this dense collection, readers will gaze upon a mind that wrestles with the absolutes of meaning.”


—Ruben Quesada, The Harvard Review

















Get Fresh Books


"In Papi Pichón, a son imagines his father as a bird whose wings span the barrios of Newark and New York City and the mountains of Puerto Rico. This book is a love song to the beauty and creativity of survival across geographies and generations. When Dimitri Reyes writes of "bodies connected through a common wind," we hear the trade winds but also the ravages of Hurricane María, as well the "the language of the trombone" in a salsa key that bridges the bomba drum and the hip-hop beat. In the spirit of the legendary Pedro Pietri, Reyes writes searingly about the ravages of empire ("the pain of my flag") and the death and displacement of a people under (crypto-)colonialism, but with a sense of humor and humanity that allows us to imagine the "last whispers" of our dead and our debt and to find our sovereign swing. This book bleeds with the Boricua histories tattooed on its diasporic heart: from baseball and boxing to factory work and dancing, and from Walter Mercado and the Young Lords to the preparation of Puerto Rican beans (the unforgettably titled "Habichuelology"). Enter this "tinderbox of bodies" and you will find flowing lines, rhythmic prose, and an exploration of the possibilities of poetry as "the artform of nourishment." Watch this fly poet fly!"


—Urayoán Noel, author of Transversal



August


University of Notre Dame


“These poems capture the quandary of being Cuban-American, a liminal space of being where one is haunted by the exile condition beyond the possibility of resolution or even the anodyne of forgetting. Castells confronts the agonies of exile, the relentless gravity of memory, and the deterioration of Cuba under communism with disquieting surrealism and stark emotion.”


—Orlando Ricardo Menes, author of The Gospel of Wildflowers and Weeds










Penguin Random House


“Nicole Sealey’s The Ferguson Report: An Erasure comes to us first in fragments—at times not even syllables, ah or id—but as a feeling, the unsayable constructing itself as we read along or listen. The paced rhythm is almost painfully made as if fleshy blips on the heart meter—a ghostly master text beneath. One feels subliminal truths cumulate out of a visceral engagement, and then the emergence of eight inspired poems.”


 —Yusef Komunyakaa, author of Everyday Mojo Songs of Earth: New and Selected Poems, 2001-2021





Tiny Reparations Books


"This collection is a full-throated war cry; both a request for anointment and the responding bendición. Marte writes like she's got daggers between her teeth: yes, there is sharpness in every line, but her words remind us blades also cauterize, heal. Even these ancestral wounds."


 —Elizabeth Acevedo, the National Book Award winning author of The Poet X













Wave Books


"...a soothing lullaby for the soul..."


 Wide Open Country
















One World


““Finally, an epic, capable of detecting the minutest spectral workings of border history in the making, stands before us. . . . A masterpiece of structurally interlocking new fables . . . It is a literary spectrometer of social possibilities. As Dozal puts it, ‘Where’s the pastfuture border?’”


—Rodrigo Toscano, author of Explosion Rocks Springfield












Get Fresh Books


"In Future Botanic Olivares writes "...the Bronx is a spell on us that we also make." Olivares is such a beautiful caster of spells that as readers we are transfixed by something beyond language —which, stunning in its own right, is still a slow second to her primal landscapes—her blossomed imagery. This collection succeeds in rooting itself in many spaces, queer and exact in its belonging and estrangement. “Imagine yourself free, safe and loved”—Olivares is a world builder without limits — her radical imagination, her keen seeing a blanket for hiding, for warmth, for living after liberation—"


—Yesenia Montilla, author of The Pink Box and Muse Found in a Colonized Body




September




FSG


"At the center of Gonzalez’s discerning Grand Tour are the excursions we all take in the world, making a home of it. These remarkable poems meditate on life as it is practiced: between borders. An ethical pilgrim and visitor, she surveys the unsteady givenness of a world polluted by the consequences of the imagination, demanding better scrutiny for ourselves, of our history and all that we have."


―Ricardo Alberto Maldonado, author of The Life Assignment











Terrapin Books


"Helena Mesa’s Where Land Is Indistinguishable from Sea takes readers on a profound journey of self-discovery, personal growth, and transformation in the aftermath of grief. The poems in the collection address the risk of forgetting, recognizing the darkness that threatens to consume anything lost. Despite this uncertainty, the poems remind us that we are a sanctuary of memories, begging to be loved and cherished, even if we must eventually let go. Mesa confronts a world that is constantly divided. Masterfully composed, these poems are full of light, radiating with a “wild joy,” for the living that longs to shine and be remembered."


—Ruben Quesada, Revelations







BOA


“India Lena González’s debut is made of exhilarating body language. Her serpentine stanzas, upper- and lowercase characters, and bold exclamations move like Bill T. Jones dancing to Keith Haring’s brushstrokes, like Alvin Ailey dancing to lines of June Jordan, like The Woman Warrior dancing with Sister Outsider. Joan Didion once said, ‘Style is character.’ González’s virtuosic style reveals not only depth of character, it reveals depth of spirit. Her poems are made of capacious, irreducible energy. fox woman get out! is unforgettable.” 


— Terrance Hayes, author of American Sonnets for My Past and Future Assassin



Penguin Random House


“J. Michael Martinez’s expanding oeuvre so often investigates and overturns the high and low mythologies of the intersection between Latinidad and U.S. imperialisms: in Tarta Americana, Martinez brings this analysis home and into the intimate space of fandom, queer desire and inscription. This book is Gen X ecstatic in its ambitious formal range and showcases Martinez’s love affair with the sublimity of language at all its registers. Tarta takes us into “You language,” as a discourse meant to deliver us more deeply into a new form of lyric autohistoria-teoria in what is Martinez’s best work yet.”


—Carmen Giménez, author of Be Recorder






Tin House


"Sainz’s debut poetry collection is a triumph, deftly capturing vivid images of displacement, and transcending borders and language. Cuba is the pounding heart of these poems."


—Richard Blanco, author of How to Love a Country















June Road Press


“Poetry for me is all in the style and texture of the writing—Mariella Saavedra Carquin’s writing holds our hands & stares us in the soul & cries with us too. These are poems that make music of our grief and perseverance. Read along to sing along: Mariella Saavedra Carquin is making maps & language out of the unnameable truths of our lives.”

 

—José Olivarez, author of Promises of Gold












Get Fresh Books


"Mercy Tullis-Bukhari's work is a portrait that's been painted over multiple times, beautiful in each layer. Her words are fearless, vulnerable, strong, confessional, erotic, historical & wonderfully personal."


Bonafide Rojas, author of Notes on the Return to the Island, When the City Sleeps













Kelsay Books


"Raíces, Relics, and Other Ghosts is an ecosystem where every poem becomes an organism working together to grow back a buried history. A history sprouting life into the hands of an “orphan Boricua” searching for belonging in Puerto Rico’s cornfields, rebellious orchids, guavas and plátanos, as well as in the stories of loved ones no longer here. This is a collection of poetry that declares, “Our histories and legacies/ could be groves instead of the tools chopping them down.” And before understanding the self, S. Salazar confronts and grieves lost land, language, and family ghosts, because “How I handle the past/ is how I’ll heal.” Witness how roots dig deep beneath the soil the sun cannot reach, working its way toward the top of a mountain with a voice demanding to be heard and seen despite what is lost."

Karla Cordero, author of How to Pull Apart the Earth


Mouthfeel Books

"In the necessary collection of poetry that is There will be days, brown boy Alejandro Jimenez tells us that in each day, there will be room for poetry. Alejandro writes with tenderness and the precise language of a surgeon dissecting the human heart as he challenges institutions, traditions, and ourselves as we seek what gets lost in languages and migration. He has provided a canvas for anyone seeking to paint themselves into a home that looks like them and feels like what’s been taken."


 —Yesika Salgado, author of Corazón







October


Mouthfeel Press


"Bermejo’s poems are sensuous, sensual offerings for a tender self that rails against the ragged world. Each is a container crafted to hold the raw yearnings of a body that lives and witnesses state violences against BIPOC, female, and undocumented bodies. Incantation do more than conjure hope for a vague future, they demand accountability and enact the healing we need now." 


—Carribean Fragoza, author of Eat the Mouth That Feeds You








Cleveland State University Poetry Center


"The Devil's Workshop evades the single story of trauma caused by substance disorder. In Cavazos’ poems, all the slung arrows have been dipped in profound love, reflection, and form. Immerse yourself in the sizzle of Cavazos’ vision as he forces you into a confrontation with your demons. If you booked a reservation to the Inferno, consider yourself lucky to have Cavazos as your guide."


—Willie Perdomo, State Poet of New York and author of The Crazy Bunch






Newfound


“The poems in Other Stories To Tell Ourselves are working overtime on the level of craft and audacity. Within its 29 pages, Vincente G. Perez explores colonization (how it affected black and brown people when it happened and how it affects us now), mental health (‘I turned my pen / outwards when asked to turn in’) and the role of poetry in the times we’re living in, while masterfully using form, metaphor, voice, and repetition. At times, I found myself audibly saying “mmm” when seemingly-simple, weighty statements showed up exactly when I needed them (‘I put a punch down on a page call it a poem’). At other times, I was both shaking my head at all the things that human beings have been subjected to (‘they drowned my home —a Christian baptism’) and impressed with the intentional usage of language that Perez has clearly honed after time spent working with words. This book makes me want to continue calling out the abnormal things we’ve come to normalize—like America’s denial of its racist and bloody history—via foolishly good storytelling and lines, as Perez has done here.”


    —KB Brookins, author of Freedom House



Mouthfeel Press


"From military films to punk bands and Shakira lyrics, Cooper paints scenes that "recalibrate" and speak to how not just military but also Chicano culture has moved forward beyond "grandfathers roaming guilty in the ghost world." Through this "reimagining," Cooper adds to the tradition of poets like Alurista and Francisco X. Alarcón, Chicanos whose visions provide lyric cosmologies and philosophies, able to honor and mourn "a whole other life we coulda had" while also giving a glimpse to what remains possible."

 

—José Angel Araguz, author of Rotura 







Autofocus


“The poems in That Spell envelope in a sensory melancholia; a carving and cutting of identity, a pruning away of the blight of domestic expectation, of gender imperative, of love grown sour. At Oquendo's expert tending we are witness to the hard lines of labor, and soft curves of fruit: bruisable and pitted, ripe to bursting with rage. That Spell is both an invocation and inquiry into how the natural world bears witness to our wounds and how we grow ourselves from the twisted roots. It is an elliptical landscape of reversals and returns, seasonalities of grief and respite. Oquendo's gift for imagery becomes a lexicon for the brambles of queer adolescence. That Spell plants a question we all must learn to nurture: How do we unsalt the self we must tend?”


—Michael Todd Cohen, assistant editor

at XRAY Literary Magazine




Beacon Press


“Blanco’s poems are journeys to a homeland within the heart, a welcome homecoming earned from a lifetime’s wise voyaging.”


—Sandra Cisneros, author of Martita, I Remember You/Martita, te recuerdo















Hub City


"Reyes Ramirez writes poems that radiate wonder and surprise. El Rey of Gold Teeth takes us on a young man’s journey toward self—a mission to find his voice in a Texas household enriched and sometimes embattled by Mexican and Salvadoran culture and history. By mapping family memory and examining his encounters, struggles and triumphs in a chaotic American landscape, he also finds his place in the broken world and a purpose as the scribe, keeper of the stories." 


—Rigoberto González, author of To the Boy Who Was Night








Garden Party Collective


"mónica teresa ortiz asks, “will we be / unloved / while we dream / of home / can’t we unproductively listen / to rain—or stars falling—/ while we run out of hours?” Turning away from grief is easier for many people, life is more manageable if they pretend there’s no cause for alarm. ortiz takes up the heavy work of documenting disasters as they unfold. Timely and forward-looking, ortiz’s have you ever dreamed of flamingos? taps into our modern griefs. Pandemic, climate crisis, and government failure abound in this collection."


—Laura Villareal, author of Girl's Guide to Leaving









TAMU Press


“Esteban Rodríguez’s Lotería is the story of the crossing.  The hunger, violence, struggle, and death experienced by those who take on this dangerous venture is itself one kind of lottery, some make it and some don’t.  There is fortune and luck being sought and some is imposed, but either way, these poems show us the vulnerability and humility of a family who has crossed the board in search of the lotería, not the game, but the promise.” 


Richard Boada, author of We Find Each Other in the Darkness







FlowerSong Books


"Adrian Ernesto Cepeda's La Lengua Inside Me buzzes, vibrant and alive with curiosity, awe, joy, noticing everything, and speaking in the language of the heart. Potent, poignant, powerful. I feel my own coming of age on the borderlands singing through every line. From Frida Kahlo to Gabriel Garcia Márquez, from la playa to La Dairy Queen in the desert, these poems sing with Latinx joy! Comida, familia, amor. I couldn't ask for more in a poetry collection. A must-read celebration of Latinx heritage and voice."


Jenn Givhan, author of Landscape with Headless Mama and Belly to the Brutal









Curbstone Books


"Sebastián H. Páramo’s Portrait of Us Burning glows with possibility. The pyre is a rivalry between half-brothers for their father’s love, for belonging beyond divorce, for a future and a family that is not “anyone else’s life.” What I respect—as a poet and as a Chicana daughter—is the vulnerability it takes to confess that sometimes being born feels like a cosmic mistake. Páramo is asking for forgiveness without knowing from whom. What do we do when we feel indebted to the suffering our parents endured for not being white? For how they chose to love in gasps, in clutches—to make surviving desirable? Who do we become? Portrait of Us Burning sips at these questions. It is a pleasure and a relief to read what so many Chicanos rarely say."


Sara Borjas, author of Heart like a Window, Mouth like a Cliff




Next Page Press


"the matchstick litanies hold the power to burn it all down, but they are wise survivors, weaving a poetics of witness and experience into an exceptional and necessary testimonio. The collection makes room for frogs and stars in its cinematography and for lyric leaps in its score to “bring the spirit back to the body” without “false sunrise” and with conocimiento. jo reyes-boitel is a master storyteller of the past and present with a keen eye on the future, which is an act of love for us all in need of this sabiduría." 


—Emmy Pérez, 2020 Texas State Poet Laureate, With the River on Our Face


 





November


Mouthfeel Press


"California Brown is painted with fervent brushstrokes and the unceasing ache to meet the sunrise with joy, reflection, and a dexterity for what is still to arrive. Herrera snaps the line, drips the ink, scratches the syllable allowing us an opportunity to lean in close until carving a clarity around 3 the stars and back until we must join in, "do you know how awake you are."


—Anthony Cody, author of Borderland Apocrypha











Sundress Publications


“Searching, heart-wrenching, and profoundly resonant are the pages of Ruin & Want. In this powerful book, we learn about a young man trying to define who he is and who he wants to be, navigating relationships and Chicano upbringing, confronting toxic masculinity and the traumas of sexual violence. José Angel Araguz’s moving prose and refreshingly honest voice brings us to the heart of what it means to reexamine the past in order to find oneself, in order to know oneself anew. This book is a gift.”


—Marcos Gonsalez, author of Pedro's Theory: Reimagining the Promised Land








December


Alegría Publishing


"Within the tender verses of Amor entre aguaceros/Love Between Downpours, Jean-Pierre’s poetry becomes an indelible imprint on my heart, intertwining the delicate nuances of community and life. Life twilight logbooks, his words delicately capture the essence of breathing you, evoking a profound sense of intimacy and connection. As I wander through the blurred boundaries of time, it feels as if I’ve glimpsed a fleeting figure lost in the distance. With masterful skill and artistry, Jean-Pierre crafts verses that linger like whispers in the wind, beckoning readers on a transformative journey through the 'defiant souls’ verse.'

 

Discover the mesmerizing beauty that awaits within these pages, where love, longing, and the human spirit intertwine with captivating grace."

 

—Ricardo Ruiz, author of We Had Our Reasons


Omnidawn

“With Black Box Syndrome Moctezuma reveals himself to be one of the finest contemporary poets of risk. Thinking past probabilistic risk analysis, this book enlivens older and outlasting speculative analytics such as fate, fortune, divination, and influence. Built from the computational concept of the black box (a system known only by its inputs and outputs) and the structural poetics of the I-Ching, this book tangles with the inescapably vulgar qualities of uncertainty: prefrontal cortex, financial instruments, divinatory practices, global supply chains, dream horizons, paranoiac demographics, and pre-nodal subjects. In a startling collection of hexagram poems, Moctezuma’s Black Box Syndrome discloses the sigil hidden in the vulgarity of chance, that is, poetry always.”


—Edgar Garcia author of Skins of Columbus:

A Dream Ethnography


Bonus: A Noteworthy Anthology



University of Arizona


When Language Broke Open will be a trailblazing anthology that multiple communities, generations, and scholar-activists will greatly benefit from. Alan Pelaez Lopez’s methodological insight in centering the lived, embodied experiences of Black Latinx queer and trans folks conjures a public and intimate space to gather multiple forms of knowledge production into one collection.”


—Paul Joseph López Oro, Smith College










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