Yesterday was the first day of Spring and the first day I caught a breath. A weeklong cough and a road trip of 1100 miles will do that to you.
Today is National Poetry Day. BookRiot published a list of “25 Gateway Poets to Start Reading for World Poetry Day.”
This had me thinking about the first time I became interested in reading poetry. It wasn’t any of the poets in my English Lit classes in high school.
In college, I bought, and read, my first book of poetry:
1-Floricanto by Alurista. His words caught me up in poetry, the poems reflected my childhood, my experiences. My favorite: “We Walk On Pebbled Streets.” I still have the old book, weathered and marked up in the margins with images that resonated, made me think, ask questions.
The following are Latinx poets I’ve read.
2- Sandra Cisneros: My Wicked, Wicked Ways and Loose Woman. Every woman finds themselves in her poetry. My favorite, a three-page poem:
You bring out the Mexican in me
The hunkered thick dark spiral
The core of a heart howl
The bitter bile.
The tequila lágrimas on Saturday all
through next weekend Sunday.
3. Margarita Engle writes novels in verse, many of the novels are for Middle Grade and Young Adult readers. The Lightning Dreamer : Cuba’s Greatest Abolitionist and Poet Slave of Cuba are favorites.
4. Frank Acosta publishes poetry on Facebook. Here’s a post about his poetry.
5. Juan Felipe Herrera, the first Latino Poet Laureate and awarded the National Book Critics Circle Award for his collection of poems “Half of the World in Light.”
6-Gloria Anzaldúa, a NEA award winner and co-author with writer/playwright Cherríe Moraga of Borderlands.
To live in the Borderlands means to
put chile in the borscht,
eat whole wheat tortillas,
speak Tex-Mex with a Brooklyn accent;
be stopped by la migra at the border checkpoints;
Living in the Borderlands means you fight hard to
resist the gold elixir beckoning from the bottle,
the pull of the gun barrel,
the rope crushing the hollow of your throat
7. Jimmy Santiago Baca‘s poetry is gut-wrenching and intense. He’s written several books of poetry besides a screenplay, Bound by Honor.
8. Verónica Reyes, Chopper Chopper centers on poems from “Bordered Lives.”
9. Melinda Palacio. I first read “Folsom Lockdown” her chapbook, and went on to “How Fire is a Story Waiting.” My favorite is “Things to Carry,” her poem about visiting her father in prison.
10. Ada Límon. “Sharks in the River.” She made a blog entry that described a feeling I also had:
I feel like everything these days is just notes. No completed thing, just notes. But I am taking them and walking with them and move them around in my body and flying them like kites and listening to them rustle and maybe someday I will make something.
Now go read some poetry, an old favorite and someone new.