Latinx Heritage Month 2018, Part III: Latinx Poets You Should Know

Happy Latinx Heritage Month! This celebration of Latinx voices takes place September 15th through October 15th. Here on the blog, I have a series of posts going up every Saturday where I share with you some Latinx authors you need to be reading. I am also hosting a Twitter giveaway for a book by a Latinx author, check out the tweet here. If you missed my previous posts, you can check them out here:

Latinx Heritage Month 2018, Part I: Favorite Reads

Latinx Heritage Month 2018, Part II: New & Upcoming Releases

For this post, I am doing something slightly different. I recently got into spoken word poetry thanks to YouTube and the talented Melissa Lozado-Oliva. Her work has led me to more gifted poets whose work I’d like to share with you here. These slam poets’ words just get under my skin and I hope you take a few minutes to introduce yourselves to these amazing Latinx poets.

1. Melissa Lozado-Oliva: “My Spanish”

“If you ask me if I am fluent in Spanish, I will tell you my Spanish is an itchy phantom limb. It is reaching for words and only finding air. My Spanish is my third birthday party. Half of it is memory, the other half is that photograph on the fridge, is what my family has told me…”

2. Elizabeth Acevedo: “Afro-Latina”

“Afro-Latina, camina conmigo. Salsa swagger anywhere she go, como ‘la negra tiene tumbao! ¡Azucar!’ Dance to the rhythm. Beat the drums of my skin. Afro-descendent, the rhythms within. The first language I spoke was Spanish. Learned from lullabies whispered in my ear…”

3. Ariana Brown: “Dear White Girls in My Spanish Class”

“Dear white girls in my Spanish class, I see you. Stumbling so hard, you laugh through entire sentences because my ancestors are a punchline and everything that comes out of your mouth is funny. Funny. I guess I’m used to being a joke, a brown body splayed and smoldering at the corner of your lip. I just want to know, when you hold the sacred sounds on your tongue do you feel less holy? Why are you here? I bet you thought that this class would be easy since Spanish is what poor brown people speak, right?…”

4. Zachary Cabellero: “To Be a Mexican Man in Texas”

“To be a Mexican man in Texas is to be confused for construction / for clear glass window custodial caregiver to those who don’t care / to ‘take out my trash, just not my tax dollars’ / to ‘I like your food, just not you’…”

5. Noel Quinones: “8 Confessions of My Tongue”

“One: I’ve snuck past the borders of another mouth today / made an accent taste like kinship and watch myself drown in false comfort / there’s always a countdown when you realize I am not fluent in Spanish / you expect that the waterfall / the spit that crossed the ocean/the syllables suffocating dance / and it is a dance / this moving weaving searching turning your back on what you can never keep up with…”

6. Yesika Salgado: “Molcajete”

“Boil the tomatillos / Boil the chiles / Place them in the molcajete / With peeled garlic cloves / Take the stone in your right hand / Press it into the green / Feel the tomatoes turn themselves inside out / The seeds of chiles crawl out of their skin / The garlic become dozens of scattered teeth / Lean in to the molcajate / As if waiting for a kiss…”

7. Denice Frohman: “Borders”

“It starts before she gets here / Before the stares tell her she’s alien to a country that knows her great-grandfather’s Mexican hands all too well / His fingerprints still echo underneath railroad tracks and cotton fields from Texas to California / where bent knees and bent hands once picked, plucked, pushed, worked for more money than he was used to/But less than he deserved.”

Are you familiar with any of these poets? Do you listen to spoken word poetry? Anyone you’d recommend? Let’s discuss in the comments.

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