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

"Afternoons" by Jorge H. Aigla
Those afternoons, the Saturdays of my tender childhood ...

In a Neighborhood in Los Angeles” by Francisco X. Alarcón
I learned …

Jugglers” by Francisco Aragón
She and I on a bench eating prawns …

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

What Is Broken Is What God Blesses” by Jimmy Santiago Baca
The lover’s footprint in the sand …

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

Hospital Writing Workshop” by Rafael Campo
Arriving late, my clinic having run …

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

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

Final Performance” by Cynthia Cruz
I crawl along the wet floor …

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

This Moment / Right Now” by Roberto Carlos Garcia
there’s a whispered prayer blowing …

Who Makes Love to Us After We Die” by Diana Marie Delgado
I turn on the radio and hear horses …

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

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

breaking away to the u.s.” by José B. González
finally …

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 …

María de la Luz Knows How to Walk” by Juan Felipe Herrera
she ambles toward El Norte she remembers as she steps …

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 ...

A Kiss” by David Tomas Martinez
And sometimes it is …

Xicano” by J. Michael Martinez
as light …

The Andalusian Dog Finds Answers” by Pablo Medina
God likes to be played like a piano …

Maps” by Yesenia Montilla
Some maps have blue borders …

declaration” by Andrés Montoya
i have found …

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

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

[No strawberry moon]” by Emmy Pérez
No strawberry moon for me, tonight …

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

There Is a Bird in My Mouth” by Natalie Scenters-Zapico
I found it on your belly, and caught it …

Saudade” by Erika L. Sánchez
In the republic of flowers I studied …

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 …

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

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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

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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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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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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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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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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Unsettling America: An Anthology of Contemporary Multicultural Poetry
edited by Maria Mazziotti Gillan and Jennifer Gillan

"An anthology of poems about heritage, culture, assimilation, and self-perception, Unsettling America: An Anthology of Contemporary Multicultural Poetry features work from a multicultural group of writers who recount their experiences with ethnic and national identity in modern-day America."
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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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