To commemorate the final day of National Poetry Month, five Alebrijes team members compiled our favorite pieces written by Latino/a/e poets.
In the U.S., April marks National Poetry Month, a celebration of the importance of poetry in our society. National Poetry Month, often abbreviated #NaPoMo, by the Academy of American Poets in April 1996, is as relevant today as it was then, however Latino/a/e writers are too often overlooked by mainstream presses and anthologies. For this reason, (and because we're in love with these pieces), five of our team members shared our selection of a few of the Latino poems that deserve to be recognized—this month, and forever.
Ren Koppel Torres recommends “At the Funeral for Van Gogh’s Ear” by Jose Hernandez Diaz (Poet Lore) and “Antonyms for Wall” by Brandon Melendez (dialogist).
"I highly recommend 'At the Funeral for Van Gogh's Ear' to anyone who's interested in exploring prose poetry, Hernandez is a legend in this genre, and this poem encapsulates Hernandez's distinctive voice: his minimalist words that make your mind linger, and a touch of magical realism. As for "Antonyms for Wall," I adore that it becomes both a whirlwind of abstraction and a vehement statement against division and imperialism. That balance is hard to pull off. And I appreciate how the poem's form really plays into the content of the piece."
Christiane Williams-Vigil recommends "Altar is Me" by Gris Munoz, from her poetry/short story collection Coatlicue Girl.
"I admire that it challenges religious norms of Latino America. Her style is amazing and the flow of the poem so beautiful expresses her voice."
Melissa Nunez recommends “You Know How to Say Arroz con Pollo but Not What You Are” by Melissa Lozada-Oliva, from her poetry book Peluda, as well as "Rain" by Aurora Levins Morales, from Silt: Prose Poems.
"I love the connections made [in "You Know How to Say Arroz..."] between language and identity: cultural, familial and personal... and the lyric language and the eco-conscious message of unity" in "Rain."
TAK Erzinger recommends "Bitches" by Melissa Lozada-Oliva, from her poetry book Peluda.
"As a Latinx I can relate to this poem in so many ways: I feel the women in my family running through this poem. It resonates with me and makes me feel quite emotional."
Morgan Flodman recommends "The Latin Deli: An Ars Poetica" by Judith Ortiz Cofer, from The Latin Deli: Telling the Lives of Barrio Women; "lady liberty" by Tato Laviera (POETRY); and "You Mean You Don't Weep at the Nail Salon?" by Elizabeth Acevedo (POETRY).
"I almost thought ["You Mean You Don't Weep at the Nail Salon?"] was about the pandemic before I saw the publication date! It perfectly captures the frustration and longing that comes with isolation."
Ren Koppel Torres is a Jewish Chicano teen whose work is published or forthcoming in Writer's Digest, Lumiere Review, Diode, and others. In addition to serving as the Editor in Chief of Alebrijes Review, he is also a poetry editor for INKSOUNDS, a Community Events Organizer for the winnow, and an Austin Youth Poet Laureate finalist.
Christiane Williams-Vigil has a degree in English and American Literature from the University of Texas at El Paso. Her work has been featured in BorderSenses’ anthology ‘Life in the Times’ and in Marshall University’s ‘Movable: Narratives of Recovery Project.’
Melissa Nunez is an avid reader, writer and homeschooling mother of three. She lives in the Rio Grande Valley region of South Texas—a predominantly Latin@ community. She writes both essays and poetry inspired by observation of the natural world, the dynamics of relationships, and the question of belonging. Her work has been featured in FOLIO, Yellow Arrow Journal, and others.
TAK Erzinger is an American/Swiss poet and artist with a Colombian background. Her poetry has been featured in Bien Acompañada from Cornell University, The Muse from McMaster University, River and South Review, The Welter and more. Her debut chapbook entitled, “Found: Between the Trees” was published by Grey Border Books, Canada 2019. Erzinger’s most recent poetry collection “At the Foot of the Mountain,” Floricanto Press, California 2021, has been announced by the University of Indianapolis, Etchings Press as the Whirling Prize winner for 2021 for best nature poetry book. Her first audio drama Stella’s Constellation was produced by Alt.Stories and Fake Realities Podcasts, out of the UK. She lives in a Swiss valley with her husband and cats.
Morgan Flodman is a writer from Cherry Valley, Massachusetts. Her work has appeared in Alebrijes Review, The Augment Review, and love letters magazine among others. A half-Puerto Rican raised in white suburban culture, she explores her Hispanic heritage through art and literature. She enjoys reading the memoirs of Esmeralda Santiago, craving pasteles, and defending her guilty pleasure, West Side Story. Morgan tweets @morganfwrites
Image by JR Corpa.