In his introduction to El Coro: A Chorus of Latino and Latina Poetry (1997), Martín Espada wrote, “The common expectation is that literature born amid social and economic crisis by nature must be didactic and polemical, obsessed with simplistic affirmations of identity and written in a raw idiom unconcerned with nuance,” but that a look at Latino/a poetries “will frustrate that expectation.” In their recent introduction to Beyond the Field: New Latin@ Literature (2013), editors John Chávez and Carmen Giménez Smith explain the new landscape: “Over the last ten years, U.S. Latin@ writers have produced poetry and prose whose influence is yet to be seen, but whose cultural work is exceptional in its scope, variation, and vision” and that “the term ‘Latin@ writing’ is as complex as each member’s varied life experience suggests.”
The work of these following poets deftly addresses Latino/a (or Latin@, without imposition of gender) heritage as a powerful force that has altered and shaped the landscape of American art. At times, their poetry has appeared not in print, but in performance and spoken word; it has not always been written as individuals, but in collaboration. Working from their own unique perspectives, narratives, and styles, these poets engage the social, political, and personal while tackling conceptions of cultural homogeneity and normativity to open a discussion about language, history, class, and society.
This collection is intended to be broad and inclusive, in order to introduce new readers to Latino and Latina poets in the United States. To make suggestions for additions to this sampler, please contact us.
The editors would like to thank J. Michael Martinez, Carmen Giménez Smith, and Francisco Aragón for their help in compiling this selection.
POETS (in alphabetical order):
AUDIO AND VIDEO: