Latino poetry is a branch of American poetry written by poets born or living in the United States who are of Latin American origin or descent[1] and whose roots are tied to the Americas and their languages, cultures, and geography.[2]


The work is most often written only in English and Spanish, with flourishes of code-switching and Spanglish.[3] However, Latino poetry is also written in Portuguese and can include Nahuatl, Mayan, Huichol, Arawakan, and other indigenous languages related to the Latino experience.[2][4] The most prominent cultural groups that write Latino poetry are Mexican-Americans and Chicanos, Puerto Ricans and Nuyoricans, Cuban-Americans, Dominican-Americans, and Central Americans.

Notable Latino poets who write in Spanish, Spanglish, and English include Miguel Algarin, Giannina Braschi, Carmen Boullosa, Ana Castillo, Sandra Cisneros, Guillermo Gómez-Peña, Pedro Pietri, Miguel Piñero, and Tato Laviera.[3]

Notable Latino poets who write primarily in English include William Carlos Williams, Martín Espada, Sandra Maria Esteves, Cristina García, and Jimmy Santiago Baca.[5][6]

Themes and genres

Latino poetry explores a wide variety of personal, social justice, and historical issues, spanning themes of love, death, language, family, and history,[7] as well as discussing real-life events like immigration restrictions, human rights, DACA, and DREAMers.[7] Borders are a prevalent theme of Latino poetry. Their genres are widely varied, spanning epic poetry, prose poetry, narrative poetry, lyric poems, hip hop, rap, reggaeton, and experimental and bilingual formats.[3]

Major works

William Carlos Williams (whose English father was raised in the Dominican Republic, and whose his mother was from Mayagüez, Puerto Rico.) wrote the poetry epic Paterson from 1946 to 1958.[8] He is associated with the American modernism and imagism.[9][8] With the goal of expanding American audiences for literature written in Spanish, Williams and José Vázquez-Amaral translated Spanish and Latin American literature together, including Figueredo's “Naked”; Pablo Neruda’s “Ode to Laziness”; and Silvina Ocampo’s “The Infinite Horses.”[10] Williams also translated The Dog and the Fever, a novella by Pedro Espinosa.[11]

Among the major Latino lyric poets writing today are MacArthur Award winner Sandra Cisneros[12] (author of the American Book Award-winning novel The House on Mango Street) and Richard Blanco, whom Barack Obama selected to write his Presidential inauguration poem.[13] In How to Love a Country, Blanco, born of Cuban exiles, writes in a mix of English and Spanish about the trauma of immigration and exile, especially for those whose lives are entwined in DACA or who live as DREAMers.[14]

Latino poets who use dramatic poetry in an epic work include Lin-Manuel Miranda, the creator of the Broadway musicals In the Heights (2008) and Hamilton (2015), which has rhyming couplets throughout the historical play, often multiple couplets within a single line of verse.[15] Hamilton is widely used to teach poetry in classrooms.[16][17] Another dramatic Latino poet is Giannina Braschi, who writes epic poetry that embeds dramatic, lyrical, and prose poems into lyric essays, political manifestos, and short stories.[18][19] Braschi's cross-genre poetry works include Empire of Dreams (1994), the Spanglish classic Yo-Yo Boing! (1998), and the geopolitical comic-tragedy United States of Banana (2011) about the collapse of the American empire and the distribution of American passports to all Latin Americans.[20]

Other important works of poetry on American immigration and the Mexican border include 187 Reasons Mexicanos Can’t Cross the Border: Undocuments (1971-2007) and Border-Crosser with a Lamborghini Dream (1999) by Juan Felipe Herrera.[21][22]


During the civil rights movements of the 1960s and 1970s, Latino poets, artists, and activists formed bilingual literary journals, magazines, publishing houses, and cultural centers to disseminate their poetry, honor their cultural legacies, and advance social justice for Latino communities.[23] Until they created their own publishing venues their works were not available. Examples of Latino founded early publishing platforms include: the performance venue Nuyorican Poets Cafe (1973); magazines such as Corazon De Aztlán (1972), Revista Chicano-Riqueña (1973),[23] and Chiricú (1976); and independent publishing house Arte Publico Press (1979), which brought bilingual authors such as Sandra Cisneros, Miguel Piñero, Pat Mora, and Nicholasa Mohr into the mainstream.[24][25]

It was not until 2012 that a Latino, Juan Felipe Herrera, the son of migrant workers from Mexico, served as poet laureate of the United States.[26] Several Latino poets have since been elected to mainstream American poetry institutions such as the Poetry Society of America (onto whose board Rigoberto Gonzalez was elected[27]) and the Academy of American Poets (in which Alberto Rios[28] was elected as Chancellor). However, Latino and other nonwhite poets, especially women, remain underrepresented in National Poetry Month and other mainstream American poetry organizations in the United States.[29]

However, there are many scholarly forums for the dissemination of research and teaching methods related to Latino poetry. Since 1968, there are many institutes and programs in colleges and universities throughout the United States that teach Latino literature as a counter-narrative to classes deemed "Eurocentric."[30] In addition, the largest language and academic literary associations feature post-graduate level panels and events on developments in Latino poetry, such as the Modern Language Association, Latin American Studies Association, American Comparative Literature Association, and the American Literature Association, among others.

Latino poets in the United States

See also


  1. ^ "Literatures of Latin America". Retrieved 2020-09-02.
  2. ^ a b "Adding Latinx Poetry to Your Curriculum by Lupe Mendez". Poetry Foundation. 2020-09-01. Retrieved 2020-09-02.
  3. ^ a b c Pérez, Rolando (2020-05-07). Stavans, Ilan (ed.). "The Bilingualisms of Latino/a Literatures". The Oxford Handbook of Latino Studies. doi:10.1093/oxfordhb/9780190691202.001.0001. ISBN 9780190691202. Retrieved 2020-09-02.
  4. ^ The FSG book of twentieth-century Latin American poetry : an anthology. Stavans, Ilan. (1st ed.). New York: Farrar, Straus, Giroux. 2011. ISBN 978-0-374-10024-7. OCLC 650212679.((cite book)): CS1 maint: others (link)
  5. ^ Schama, Chloe. "What Defines Latino Literature?". Smithsonian Magazine. Retrieved 2020-09-02.
  6. ^ The Norton anthology of Latino literature. Stavans, Ilan., Acosta-Belén, Edna. (1st ed.). New York: W.W. Norton & Co. 2011. ISBN 978-0-393-08007-0. OCLC 607322888.((cite book)): CS1 maint: others (link)
  7. ^ a b "U.S. Latinx Voices in Poetry". Poetry Foundation. 2020-10-01. Retrieved 2020-10-02.
  8. ^ a b "The Paterson Poem by William Carlos Williams". Retrieved 2020-10-16.
  9. ^ "Introduction to Latina and Latino Literature/William Carlos Williams - Wikibooks, open books for an open world". Retrieved 2020-10-16.
  10. ^ Cohen, Jonathan (2016). "Reading the Williams (-Amaral) Translations of Latin American Poetry: How to Appreciate the "Carlos" Personae of the Late Years". William Carlos Williams Review. 33 (1–2): 18–41. doi:10.5325/willcarlwillrevi.33.1-2.0018. ISSN 0196-6286. JSTOR 10.5325/willcarlwillrevi.33.1-2.0018.
  11. ^ Routon, Claudia (2019-01-02). "Pedro Espinosa. The Dog and the Fever: A Perambulatory Novella. Translated by William Carlos Williams. Middleton, CT: Wesleyan UP, 2018. 61 pp". Translation Review. 103 (1): 49–51. doi:10.1080/07374836.2019.1583991. ISSN 0737-4836. S2CID 197907112.
  12. ^ "Sandra Cisneros - MacArthur Foundation". Retrieved 2020-10-02.
  13. ^ "One Today by Richard Blanco - Poems". Retrieved 2020-10-02.
  14. ^ "8 excellent Latino poetry books for National Poetry Month". NBC News. 18 April 2019. Retrieved 2020-10-02.
  15. ^ Lubin, Gus. "The rhymes in Lin-Manuel Miranda's 'Hamilton' are just insane". Business Insider. Retrieved 2020-10-02.
  16. ^ "hamilton play is a poem - Google Search". Retrieved 2020-10-02.
  17. ^ Cassutto, George (2017-12-10). "Using "Hamilton: The Musical" in the Classroom". The Educators Room. Retrieved 2020-10-02.
  18. ^ "About Giannina Braschi". Retrieved 2020-10-02.
  19. ^ "Giannina Braschi: 2012 National Book Festival". Library of Congress. Retrieved 2020-10-02.
  20. ^ a b Aldama, Frederick Luis (2020). Poets, philosophers, lovers : on the writings of Giannina Braschi. Stavans, Ilan, O'Dwyer, Tess. Pittsburgh, Pa. ISBN 978-0-8229-4618-2. OCLC 1143649021.((cite book)): CS1 maint: location missing publisher (link)
  21. ^ "Nation's 1st Latino Poet Laureate Announced: Juan Felipe Herrera". NBC News. 10 June 2015. Retrieved 2020-10-02.
  22. ^ "Juan Felipe Herrera". Encyclopedia Britannica. Retrieved 2020-10-02.
  23. ^ a b "Celebrating Hispanic Heritage with Revista Chicano-Riqueña". University Libraries. 2018-09-18. Retrieved 2020-10-02.
  24. ^ Dansby, Andrew (January 31, 2020). "The great vision of Houston's Arte Público Press". Preview. Retrieved 2020-10-02.
  25. ^ "Latinopia Literature Arte Público Press". Retrieved 2020-10-02.
  26. ^ "Juan Felipe Herrera". Poetry Foundation. 2020-10-02. Retrieved 2020-10-02.
  27. ^ "The New Salon: Reading and Conversation with Rigoberto González & Kimiko Hahn". Poetry Society of America. Retrieved 2020-10-02.
  28. ^ "Alberto Ríos". Poetry Out Loud. Retrieved 2020-10-02.
  29. ^ "12 Books Of Poetry By Writers Of Color For a More Inclusive National Poetry Month". Bustle. 13 April 2016. Retrieved 2020-10-02.
  30. ^ Escobar, Natalie (2018-09-07). "How 50 Years of Latino Studies Shaped History Education". The Atlantic. Retrieved 2020-10-24.
  31. ^ Mignucci, Melanie (29 June 2017). "This Latinx Poet's Debut Novel is a Must-Read for Second-Gen Kids". Teen Vogue. Retrieved 2020-10-02.
  32. ^ a b "Latinx Book Bingo Reading Recommendations — Latinas Leyendo". Latinas Leyendo. Retrieved 2020-09-01.
  33. ^ "About Julia Alvarez". Retrieved 2020-10-02.
  34. ^ a b "Hispanic Heritage Month: Recommending Latin American Women Authors". The New York Public Library. Retrieved 2020-10-02.
  35. ^ Lindstrom, Naomi; Agosín, Marjorie; Kostopulos-Cooperman, Celeste (1998). "A Cross and a Star: Memoirs of a Jewish Girl in Chile". World Literature Today. 72 (1): 110. doi:10.2307/40153566. ISSN 0196-3570. JSTOR 40153566.
  36. ^ a b c "8 excellent Latino poetry books for National Poetry Month". NBC News. 18 April 2019. Retrieved 2020-09-01.
  37. ^ "About Giannina Braschi". Retrieved 2020-09-02.
  38. ^ Cruz-Malavé, Arnaldo Manuel (2014). ""Under the Skirt of Liberty": Giannina Braschi Rewrites Empire". American Quarterly. 66 (3): 801–818. doi:10.1353/aq.2014.0042. ISSN 1080-6490. S2CID 144702640.
  39. ^ "Three Poems by Carmen Boullosa". Latin American Literature Today. 2017-10-31. Retrieved 2020-09-03.
  40. ^ González, Christopher (2017). Permissible narratives : the promise of Latino/a literature. Columbus. ISBN 978-0-8142-1350-6. OCLC 975447664.((cite book)): CS1 maint: location missing publisher (link)
  41. ^ "Sandra Cisneros on Poetry & Her Life in Mexico by Harriet Staff". Poetry Foundation. 2020-09-01. Retrieved 2020-09-02.
  42. ^ "Lorna Dee Cervantes". Poetry Foundation. 2020-10-02. Retrieved 2020-10-02.
  43. ^ a b c Puga, Kristina (2013-04-27). "8 Poets Disclose Their Favorite Lines of Poetry". NBC Latino.
  44. ^ "Martín Espada". Poetry Foundation. 2020-09-01. Retrieved 2020-09-02.
  45. ^ "guillermo gómez-peña poetry - Google Search". Retrieved 2020-09-02.
  46. ^ González, José B. Poetry Foundation Retrieved 2021-02-14. ((cite web)): Missing or empty |title= (help)
  47. ^ "About Rigoberto González". Retrieved 2020-10-02.
  48. ^ Vaché Sr., Warren (2003), "Corcoran, Corky", Oxford Music Online, Oxford University Press, doi:10.1093/gmo/9781561592630.article.j102100
  49. ^ "Juan Felipe Herrera". Poetry Foundation. 2020-09-01. Retrieved 2020-09-02.
  50. ^ "Poems by Ada Limón". Retrieved 2020-09-02.
  51. ^ Rivera Montes, Zorimar. "Towards a Poetics of Statelessness innovation and resistance in the work of Urayoán Noel, Giannina Braschi, and Lawrence la Fountain-Stokes". UPR, Rio Piedras.
  52. ^ "About Alberto Ríos". Retrieved 2020-09-02.
  53. ^ "Luis Alberto Urrea". Poetry Foundation. 2020-09-01. Retrieved 2020-09-02.

Further reading