National Poetry Month: 10 of Our Favorite Latino Poets

Whether it's a sonnet or a free verse, poetry has the power to move the soul the way no other form of literature can. In honor of National Poetry Month, we are counting down 10 of our favorite Latino poets of all time. Find out who made the cut and let us know who your favorite writer is!

1. Poets: Sandra Cisneros

Sandra Cisneros (1954 – Present)

The Chicana writer may be best known for her fiction novel, The House on Mango Street, and her collection of short stories, Woman Hollering Creek and Other Stories, but Cisneros has also published an array of raw and descriptive poems that challenge Chicana identity and sexuality. Her poetry collections, My Wicked Wicked Ways and Loose Woman, include vivid and erotic proses that celebrate the essence of being a free and fearless woman.  


2. Poets: Julia Alvarez

Julia Alvarez (1950 – Present)

The Dominican American writer became a literally legend with novels like How The Garcia Girls Lost Their Accents and In The Time of The Butterflies, but Alvarez has also published several poetry collections including, The Other Side, Homecoming, and The Woman I Kept to Myself. In 2004, the award-winning writer spoke to Latina about that poetry means to her, “For me, poetry is that cutting edge of the self, the part which moves out into experience ahead of every other part of the self.”


3. Poets: Luis J. Rodriguez

Luis J. Rodriguez (1954 – Present)

The Chicano writer was born in Texas and moved to East Los Angeles, where he was sucked into the gang life at the tender age of 11. His rough childhood would later become the muse for his autobiographical work, Always Running: La Vida Loca. Rodriguez’s passion for depicting the truth about urban life has also influenced his poetry like, My Nature is Hunger: New & Selected Poems, Trochemoche, The Concrete River, and Poems Across The Pavement. The award-winning writer has most recently released a new memoir titled, It Calls You Back: An Odyssey Through Love, Addiction, Revolutions, and Healing, which includes an honest narrative about gang-life and its vicious cycle.


4. Poets: Pablo Neruda

Pablo Neruda (1904-1973)

The Chilean writer’s poems and sonnets can easily romance any crush you’re secretly longing for. In 1971, Neruda won the Nobel Prize for Literature and was named as one of the most inventive poets of his time. Neruda, who was exiled to Argentina for supporting the Communist Party and later returned to his native country, combined his love for politics and nature in his famous work, Canto General. He lost his battle with prostate cancer in 1973, but Neruda’s works embodied a romantic and revolutionary spirit that will live on forever.


5. Poets: Jose Marti

Jose Marti (1853 – 1895)

Jose Marti was more than a writer and philosopher. He was a revolutionary leader who remains a heroic figure in Cuba today. Marti’s vision wasn’t just to write poems of an ideal nation, but to free Cuba from Spain and make sure the country became a democracy free of slavery. His poetry was known for being nationalistic and honest about the ideologies of race, class, and oppression in the island. He died during a battle against Spanish troops in 1895.


6. Poets: Ruben Dario

Ruben Dario (1867 – 1916)

The Nicaraguan poet was all about showcasing his Latino pride! He launched the literary movement modernismo (modernism) and is known as a master of words in Central and South America. We love his poems; “Far Away” and “In Autumn” just to name a few.


7. Poets: Jorge Luis Borges

Jorge Luis Borges (1899 – 1986)

The Argentine author is known as the original creator of magical realism. Although other writers at the time were also experimenting with science fiction-based stories, Borges’ became one of the most celebrated writers in the genre. His work transforms fantasy into reality in a way only a literally genius can do. Borges died of liver cancer in 1986.


8. Poets: Julia de Burgos

Julia de Burgos (1914 – 1953)

Known as one of the greatest poets in Puerto Rico, Burgos was greatly inspired by La Isla Del Encanto and its independence. In one of her most famous poems, Río Grande de Loíza, she writes:

Río Grande de Loíza! Great river. Great flood of tears.

The greatest of all our island's tears

Save those greater that come from the eyes

Of my soul for my enslaved people.


9. Poets: Octavio Paz

Octavio Paz (1914 – 1998)

Paz was born in Mexico City and fought in the Spanish Civil War in 1937. The legendary poet and novelist was awarded the Nobel Prize of Literature in 1990.  His works featured Aztec mythology and themes of solitude. Some of our favorite poems include, “Passage” and “Spaces.”

 


10. Poets: Nicolas Guillen

Nicolás Guillén  (1902-1989)

The Cuban writer’s prose as a rhythmic beat that cuts to your core with motifs dealing with oppression and social issues in pre-revolutionary Cuba. He strongly believed that artists and people of color should,Express our individual dark-skinned selves without shame." One of our favorite poems, "La canción del bongo," depicts the rich mixtures of races in Cuba and how they all connect to one single root.