When it comes to lists, Afro-Latinx writers and artists often get excluded from lists that feature Latinx authors. While the African-American community often WILL include us, our Latinx heritage sometimes is ignored or swept under the rug in those lists too. That is why, as an Afro-Latinx writer, I decided to make my own list to highlight the exceptional literature that has been written by us and for us in the past couple of years or that is forthcoming in 2018!
The following books explore themes of identity, cultura, raza, family, home, mental health, illness, politics, feminism, queerness and all the joys and traumas that make us who we are and that speak to the beauty of all our intersectionalities. If you wanted to learn more about what it means to be Afro-Latinx, the work of these authors is the place to start!
Here are 10 poetry books that are by Afro-Latinx writers or anthologize our work that you need to have on your bookshelf today! I (will)own all of these and so should you! (I mean, if you really believe in inclusivity and all...) - Oh and full disclosure, yes most these amazing writers are my friends...because that IS how these lists work...those of us who make lists put our friends on them....if anyone tries to tell you it works some other way...they're LYING. But I promise you, all these poets are BEAST(cause even some of their titles say so)!
If you're an Afro-Latinx writer and want me to read your work, or learn more about you..please submit your work to the Queen Mob's Teahouse Special Call for Submissions! I am looking for new and established Afro-Latinx poets to share their work with me!!! Submissions close Jan 15, 2018.
Chapbook by Elizabeth Acevedo, YesYes Books, Oct 2016.
"Beastgirl & Other Origin Myths is a collection of folkloric poems centered on the historical, mythological, gendered and geographic experiences of a first generation American woman. From the border in the Dominican Republic, to the bustling streets of New York City, Acevedo considers how some bodies must walk through the world as beastly beings. How these forgotten myths be both blessing and birthright."
Elizabeth also has a phenomenal YA novel written in verse titled The Poet X (Harper Collins, 2017). Check it out!
Chapbook by Ariana Brown, Fall 2017
"messy girl is a chapbook of poems about depression, heartbreak, femininity, & healing--an attempt at unraveling the lies I inherited about womanhood & required suffering. in the spring & summer of 2014, I could barely hold myself together. recovering from a messy break-up & constant financial stress left me ashamed at how "not okay" I felt, all of the time.
I wrote poems as a way to document, because I was afraid of disappearing into my own silence. three years later, I know these poems were written by a girl who alone insisted on her own survival, despite her impossible circumstances. I have excavated, re-purposed, & added new work to these poems in the hopes that you find them healing, too."
Chapbook by Rio Cortez, Jai-Alai Books, Miami, FL, 2016.
"Don’t be fooled by the title’s trendy embrace of the empty—these poems are rock solid. The chapbook opens with the speaker unabashedly ensconcing herself in a Sun Capsule Super Cyclone 350 tanning bed, “the only black / girl at Future Tan Tanning / Salon.” Examining her own reflection, in the violet light with goggles over her eyes, she asserts, “I like the way I look / darker & like a time-traveler. . . . ” This first poem ends in a kind of holding pattern—“I think I’m sad / or something worry how much time / has passed since I’ve been here”—and the poems that follow deliver on this promise of suspended time and bodily unease."-Kenyon Review
Chapbook by Malcolm Friend
"mxd kd mixtape hits all the right young poet notes: identity, awareness, inquiry, a politically charged imagination with the right doses of social value. Friend alludes to our heroes, our irony, our singers, as he sifts through the nuances of diaspora, untold stories, and lyrical re-interpretations of Black Caribbean complexes. This debut asks us to confront our biases, our mask-wearing tendencies, our ability to stay silent; it resists the violence of definitions until we have no choice but to sing. Friend's poetry does what all good albums of their time seek to do: set the record straight."
— Willie Perdomo, author of The Essential Hits of Shorty Bon Bon
Chapbook by Raina J. Leon, Oakland, CA: Nomadic Press (Chapbook), September 2016
"Profeta Without Refuge engages in poetic experimentation through the writing of an Afrocentric and womanist creation myth in resistance to state-sanctioned violence against Black and brown peoples. The book includes poems in the voices of three characters: the creator goddess of a Black immortal people; her human daughter who carries the vivid memories of generational trauma and joy; and the poet who serves as witness to reality and creator of the surreal as survival mechanism in our tumultuous times."
Raina also has several full length poetry collections including:
Sombra: Dis(locate). Ireland: Salmon Poetry, February 2016
Boogeyman Dawn. Ireland: Salmon Poetry, October 2013
Canticle of Idols. Cincinnati, OH: Wordtech Communications. Inc., 2008
Poetry/Prose by Jennifer Maritza McCauley, Stalking Horse Press, Oct. 2017
"Jennifer Maritza McCauley’s ‘Scar On/Scar Off’ runs the borderlands of mestiza consciousness, by turns neon-lit and beating, defiant and clashing, searching and struggling, in fistfuls of recognition, in constant pursuit of intersections and dualities. Drawing on Audre Lorde, Gloria Anzaldua, Toni Morrison, Claudia Rankine, and the inspirations of her late friend Monica A. Hand, through polyglossia and hybrid text, McCauley evokes vividly the relationships between psyche and city, identity and language. In the rhythm and snap of these poems and fragmentary stories, we find echoes of Sarah Webster Fabio, Beyonce, flamenco, Nikki Giovanni, street slang, danger and hope. This is a profound collection, a rebel language.’"
Poetry Collection by Julian Randall, Forthcoming, University of Pittsburgh Press, Fall 2018.
"Julian Randall is a Living Queer Black poet from Chicago. A Pushcart Prize nominee, he has received fellowships from Callaloo, BOAAT and the Watering Hole and was the 2015 National College Slam (CUPSI) Best Poet. Julian is the curator of Winter Tangerine Review’s Lineage of Mirrors and a poetry editor for Freezeray Magazine. He is also a co-founder of the Afrolatinx poetry collective Piel Cafe. His work has appeared or is forthcoming in publications such as Nepantla, Rattle, Ninth Letter, Vinyl, Prairie Schooner and The Adroit Journal among others. He is an MFA candidate in poetry at the University of Mississippi."
"The existential magnitude, deep intellect, and playful subversion of St. Thomas-born, Florida-raised poet Nicole Sealey’s work is restless in its empathic, succinct examination and lucid awareness of what it means to be human.
The ranging scope of inquiry undertaken in Ordinary Beast—at times philosophical, emotional, and experiential—is evident in each thrilling twist of image by the poet. In brilliant, often ironic lines that move from meditation to matter of fact in a single beat, Sealey’s voice is always awake to the natural world, to the pain and punishment of existence, to the origins and demises of humanity. Exploring notions of race, sexuality, gender, myth, history, and embodiment with profound understanding, Sealey’s is a poetry that refuses to turn a blind eye or deny. It is a poetry of daunting knowledge. "
"From The Pink Box’s opening poem, Yesenia Montilla establishes herself as a poet for whom language is not only how we communicate but how we live. Throughout this collection, the reader is presented with a voice consistently aware of the stakes of a given situation, aware that for every dream there is a struggle. Whether it is a painful memory as insistent as the sound of a subway train buckling along on its track, or a moment of celebration via ghazal, ode, or haiku, Montilla keeps the reader close to the action of life. When the speaker of a later poem states, “I want to live in service of one action today, poetry,” they are declaring the heart of Montilla’s vision." -by José Angel Araguz, The Volta Blog (read review)
A first-ever anthology of poetry by Afro-Latinos
"'We defy translation,' Sandra Maria Esteves writes. "Nameless/we are a whole culture/once removed." She is half Dominican, half Puerto Rican, with indigenous and African blood, born in the Bronx. Like so many of the contributors, she is a blend of cultures, histories and languages.
Containing the work of more than 40 poets equally divided between men and women who self-identify as Afro-Latino, ¡Manteca! is the first poetry anthology to highlight writings by Latinos of African descent. The themes covered are as diverse as the authors themselves. Many pieces rail against a system that institutionalizes poverty and racism. Others remember parents and grandparents who immigrated to the United States in search of a better life, only to learn that the American Dream is a nightmare for someone with dark skin and nappy hair. But in spite of the darkness, faith remains. Anthony Morales' grandmother, like so many others, was "hardwired to hold on to hope." There are love poems to family and lovers. And music salsa, merengue, jazz permeates this collection.
Editor and scholar Melissa Castillo-Garsow writes in her introduction that "the experiences and poetic expression of Afro-Latinidad were so diverse" that she could not begin to categorize it. Some write in English, others in Spanish. They are Puerto Rican, Dominican and almost every combination conceivable, including Afro-Mexican. Containing the work of well-known writers such as Pedro Pietri, Miguel Pinero and E. Ethelbert Miller, less well-known ones are ready to be discovered in these pages."