When we think of great poets we may automatically think of Shakespeare or maybe even Emily Dickinson, but did you know that for many years Latinas have also excelled in poetry writing? Plenty of Latina poets have received awards and universal recognition for their poetry collections. Poetry is also what helped secure the first Nobel Peace Prize ever awarded to a Latina. Latina poetry explores a variety of styles and themes and is often inspired by the poets’ beautiful and sometimes painful cultural experiences. Poetry has been responsible for giving many Latinas the strong voice they need to share their unique stories with the world. Here are some amazing Latina poets you should check out.
Sandra Cisneros is a Mexican American author who was born and raised in Chicago, Illinois. Sandra may be best known for her novel The House on Mango Street, but she is also a talented poet. Sandra’s poetry reflects her own personal experiences with identity, poverty, cultural stereotypes, and feminism. Some of Sandra’s poetry collections include Bad Boys, My Wicked Wicked Ways and Loose Woman. After 45 years as an author, Sandra continues to write and it is her love for writing that encouraged her to start several foundations which aim to advance the success of writers in Texas.
Julia de Burgos is considered to be one of the first Latina poets and one of the greatest Puerto Rican poets of all time. While Julia’s poetry reflects her love for her country and nature, her poems also reflect her advocacy for Puerto Rican independence. Julia’s poems highlight some of the social struggles going on in Puerto Rico at the time of her writing. Some of her more famous works are El Rio Grande de Loiza, Poema para Mi Muerte (My Death Poem), and Yo Misma Fui Mi Ruta (I Was My Own Path). Julia received many awards and recognitions for her poetry during her lifetime and after her death she had several monuments built in her name both in Puerto Rico and the U.S.
Pat Mora is the author of several poetry collections for adults and young adults including Dizzy In Your Eyes: Poems about Love and My Own True Name. Common themes in Mora’s poetry are Mexican American culture, bilingualism and the southwest where she grew up. Mora has also received several awards for her poetry collections for adults which include Borders, Chantsand Communion. Mora currently works as a literacy advocate for her self-founded initiative “El día de los niños/El día de los libros,” which is an effort to connect children with the joy of reading.
Julia Alvarez is a Dominican American poet and novelist. Julia was born in New York City but spent most of her childhood in the Dominican Republic. Her experience as an immigrant influenced much of her writing. Her poetry collections include The Woman I Kept To Myself, Homecoming and The Other Side/El Otro Lado. Julia’s poetry explores themes of identity, assimilation and cultural expectations of women. Alvarez has won several awards for her poetry and some of her poetry manuscripts are on display in the New York Public Library.
Gabriela Mistral was a Chilean poet and the only Latin American woman to ever win a Nobel Prize in Literature. Her most famous poem, Sonetos de la muerte, was inspired by the suicide of her lover, and themes of love, suffering and pain were a constant in her following poems. Gabriela was also an educator and spent most of her life traveling and working as an education reformer. Though she is not as well-known in the 20th century, her poems laid the groundwork for many of today’s Latina feminist poets.