poem index

Hispanic Heritage Month

In honor of Hispanic Heritage Month—September 15 to October 15—we've put together a selection of poems, essays, and multimedia features, including videos of the first Latino poet laureate of the United States, Juan Felipe Herrera, who also serves on our Board of Chancellors


Featured Poems

"gathering words" by María Luisa Arroyo
One day I will write you a letter ...

América” by Richard Blanco
Although Tía Miriam boasted she discovered …

Poem in Which I Only Use Vowels” by Paola Capó-García
Poem in which I have wisdom …

Untitled” by Jesús Castillo
Dear Empire, I am confused each time I wake inside you

Freeway 280” by Lorna Dee Cervantes
Las casitas near the gray cannery …

Cayucos” by Eduardo C. Corral
A girl asleep beneath a fishing net …

Problems with Hurricanes” by Victor Hernández Cruz
A campesino looked at the air …

Diaspora Sonnet 25” by Oliver de la Paz
The planet pulls our bodies through …

On Translation” by Mónica de la Torre
Not to search for meaning, but to reedify a gesture, an intent …

Heal the Cracks in the Bell of the World” by Martín Espada
Now the bells speak with their tongues of bronze

Spanish As Experienced by a Native Speaker” by John Olivares Espinoza
A George Washington quarter was a cuarta …

How to Dismantle a Heart” by Rodney Gomez
My mother used to say the heart makes music …

"Central America in My Heart" by Oscar Gonzales
On this voyage into the deep communion of solitude ...

Gila” by Rigoberto González
It’s no curse …

Father’s Memory of a Mexican Mining Camp” by Cindy Williams Gutiérrez
Softly, it always began softly …

Cumbia de Salvación” by Leticia Hernández-Linares
Cumbia sabrosa cumbia

Borderbus” by Juan Felipe Herrera
A dónde vamos  where are we going …

Notes on the Below” by Ada Limón
Humongous cavern, tell me, wet limestone …

Do Not Speak of the Dead” by Cecilia Llompart
I was born among the bodies. I was hurried …

"The Sky Over My Mother's House" by Jaime Manrique
It is a July night ...

Xicano” by J. Michael Martinez
as light …

A Pain That Is Not Private” by Lara Mimosa Montes
There is a time and place in the world for abstraction …

declaration” by Andrés Montoya
i have found …

Before the Airport, Sushi” by Tomás Q. Morin
The old man sitting out front …

No Longer Ode” by Urayoán Noel
A hurricane destroyed your sense of home …

I Walk Into Every Room and Yell Where the Mexicans At” by José Olivarez
i know we exist because of what we make …

Change of Address” by Deborah Paredez
Rate your pain the physical …

XI” by Ruben Quesada
One morning the spirit of my lover’s uncle returned …

Day of the Refugios” by Alberto Rios
I was born in Nogales, Arizona …

notes on the seasons” by Raquel Salas Rivera
in Spanish, we don’t naturally occur …

All of Us” by Erika L. Sánchez
Every day I am born like this—

from “Post-Identity” by Carmen Giménez Smith
I was light from the mouth from every part of me …

What Now?” by Gary Soto
Where did the shooting stars go?

The Dirt Eaters” by Virgil Suárez
Whenever we grew tired and bored of curb ball …

Let Me Try Again” by Javier Zamora
I could bore you with the sunset, the way water tasted …

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Featured Essays

Our People, Our Future: Richard Blanco in Conversation
"In terms of my personal aesthetic or take on poetry, I would say that poetry is the place we go to when we don’t have any more words; that place that is so emotionally centered. It is the place we go to when we have something that we can’t quite put a finger on, that we can’t explain away, that we can’t easily understand with the mind."
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For All of Us, One Today: Richard Blanco in Conversation
"In my mind an American was some other little boy from the television shows of the 1950s and 1960s that had formed my idealized version of the country and what it meant to be an American. As such, I had to ask myself some very important questions: Am I truly American? Do I love America? Is this home? I knew that in order to write an honest poem, I had to answer these questions honestly."
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Survival in Two Worlds at Once: Federico García Lorca and Duende
by Tracy K. Smith
"We read poems because they change us, and our reasons for writing them hover around that same fact. A poem, a good poem, speaks to and from a place that belongs to us—that elusive pitch of being some might call the soul, the psyche, the sub- or unconscious."
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Kinds of Work: Martín Espada in Conversation
"Why not write about work? Why not write about the things we do to occupy our time all day long? You can write about any kind of work, even if you work in an office and think it’s the dullest kind of occupation. You can still find something to say about it."
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La Generacion del 27: Dalí, Buñuel, and Lorca
"In the Residences de Estudiantes in Madrid, poet and playwright Federico García Lorca, surrealist painter Salvador Dalí, and filmmaker Luis Buñuel lived together through the late 1920s and early 1930s, forming the new Spanish Surrealist avant-garde."
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A Brief Guide to Nuyorican Poetry
The Nuyorican movement was a tradition of poets, writers, artists, and musicians whose work spoke to the social, political, and economic issues Puerto Ricans faced in New York City in the 1960s and 1970s.
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Listen to this playlist of poems in Spanish and English, featuring work by María Luisa Arroyo, Francisco Aragón, Jaime Manrique, Olga Orozco, and more.

Educator Resources

Lesson Plans for Hispanic Heritage Month
Browse this selection of lesson plans featuring poems by Richard Blanco, Juan Felipe Herrera, Pablo Neruda, and many more.

Spanish: Poems for Kids
Browse this selection of poems in Spanish and English that are appropriate for young people.

Featured Books

The Wind Shifts

The Wind Shifts: New Latino Poetry edited by Francisco Aragón
"The Wind Shifts: New Latino Poetry features works by twenty-five new and emerging Latino and Latina voices in the twenty-first century. Poets featured in the anthology include Naomi Ayala, Richard Blanco, David Dominguez, Gina Franco, Sheryl Lunda, and Urayoán Noel."
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One Today

One Today
by Richard Blanco
This children’s book, illustrated by Dav Pilkey, features Richard Blanco’s poem “One Today,” which was the inaugural poem for Barack Obama’s second inauguration.
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by Marcelo Hernandez Castillo
“The subject of crossing borders is central to understanding Marcelo Hernandez Castillo’s debut collection, Cenzontle, a book that will fuel any reader’s desire to protest the terrorizing rhetoric undocumented Americans face along with the fear of deportation in today’s political climate.”
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Beneath the Spanish

Beneath the Spanish
by Victor Hernández Cruz
“Cruz’s latest assembly of poems and prose—exuberant, spontaneous, fast-paced—looks back over several seas and centuries at the broad gauge of Caribbean history, finding ‘wonder, mystery, possibilities, imagination’ as well as injustice, untold tales, and ‘the pull of the sea.’”
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Reversible Monuments: Contemporary Mexican Poetry, edited by Mónica de la Torre and Michael Wiegers
"This bilingual collection consists of Mexican poets born roughly after 1950, essentially the post-Octavio Paz generation, who have published at least two books of poetry. Of the thirty-one poets chosen, only two have poetry books published in the United States."
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El Coro: A Chorus of Latino and Latina Poets, edited by Martín Espada
"El Coro: A Chorus of Latino and Latina Poets first began as a special section in the Massachusetts Review in 1995. The issue quickly sold out, inspiring poet and educator Martín Espada to expand the collection into an anthology of over forty Latino and Latina poets, all born between 1904 and 1977."
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Cool Auditor

Cool Auditor by Ray Gonzalez
"Cool Auditor, the tenth book by Ray Gonzales, is a collection of prose poems. Focusing on the strange, improbable, and all too possible, the poems in this collection are often surprising, harrowingly funny, and always interesting."
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Black Blossoms by Rigoberto González
"Rigoberto Gonzalez’s third book of poetry explores the private lives of working-class women of color. More explicitly, the poems take on the ambitious project of complicating familiar feminine imagery such as flowers, birth, and the nude female form as subject; these tropes are juxtaposed with dark, often violent language."
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Half the World in Light: New and Selected Poems by Juan Felipe Herrera
"In Half the World in Light, the import of Juan Felipe Herrera’s nearly forty years of work is on full display, and there is no adjective to describe the immensity of it. Reinventing himself from book to book and even poem to poem, he is a virtuoso of language and society."
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The Book of Questions

The Book of Questions
by Pablo Neruda

"When internationally acclaimed poet Pablo Neruda died in 1973, El libro de las preguntas (The Book of Questions) was one of eight unpublished manuscripts of poetry that sat on his desk. Copper Canyon presents this collection of Neruda’s poignant musings in The Book of Questions."
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Then Come Back

Then Come Back: The Lost Neruda
by Pablo Neruda

“The poet and novelist Forrest Gander, already known for translations of Mexican poets, seems like the obvious pick to bring the new Neruda into English, and he does not disappoint.”
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Cruel Futures
Cruel Futures by Carmen Giménez Smith
“In Carmen Giménez Smith’s Cruel Futures, it’s clear she is not interested in the kind of static attention one associates with William Wordsworth’s definition of poetry as ‘emotion recollected in tranquility.’”
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