Written By: Chiara Atoyebi
From September 15 to October 15, we honor National Hispanic American Heritage Month by recognizing the contributions of LatinX poets. Their moving verses have set the standard for poetic activism, keeping readers informed and engaged. The words of these wise scribes often reflect the rich cultural diversity of the Latinx experience, exploring themes of identity, heritage, resilience, and spirituality. In Celebration of Hispanic Heritage Month here are three standout LatinX poets you should know.
Ariana Brown is a talented poet who has captured the attention of audiences with her powerful words and captivating performances. Hailing from San Antonio, Texas, Brown explores the intersection of her Black and Latina identities, queer experiences, and social justice issues in her poetry. As a spoken word artist Brown delivers powerful spoken word performances that not only empowers her audience but resonate on a deeply emotional level. Additionally, her work addresses a wide range of topics from self-acceptance and family relationships to finding one’s true voice. One of her most notable works, “After Poems: A Breakup Zine” is a “40-page multimedia poetry zine written and designed” by Brown herself. According to the author’s website, “After Poems” is a collection of personal poems, selfies, photos, sayings, and digital illustrations. The story depicts personal growth, experiencing a Saturn return, and self-discovery after facing a great challenge.
Brown’s work is intensely imaginative and available on her website, where she also advertises services for writing workshops, speaking engagements, lectures, and more.
Ariana Brown’s poetic endeavors are driven by a profound commitment to uplifting Black individuals, paying homage to her ancestors, and honoring the rich history of her community through her creative expressions. Through her work she aspires to be a beacon of inspiration for disempowered communities, channeling her words to infuse strength and hope.
Brown’s writing has been published in prestigious outlets such as PBS, Huffington Post, Blavity, For Harriet, and Remezcla.
Elizabeth Acevedo is a formidable presence in the realm of young adult literature and slam poetry. Renowned for her best-selling novels such as “The Poet X” and “With the Fire on High,” Acevedo deftly interweaves poetry and prose to convey tales of resilience and self-discovery. Her spoken word performances, characterized by their empowering and emotionally charged content, address themes including Afro-Latinx identity, familial relationships, and the quest to find one’s authentic voice. Acevedo’s latest novel, “Family Lore,” was released in August and marks her first venture into adult fiction. The book pays homage to Dominican cultural heritage and the powerful lineage of women through its mystical themes. The protagonist, Flor Marte, possesses a unique gift of predicting the time and manner of people’s deaths, which leads to an intriguing proclamation. She announces her intention to host a living wake for herself, extending invitations not only to her siblings but also to their offspring. The question of whether Flor has foreseen her own demise or that of another remains shrouded in mystery, both to the reader and her family. As the narrative unfolds, we are introduced to Flor’s sisters, Matilde, Pastora, and Camila, her daughter Ona, and her niece Yadi, each possessing their unique magical gifts.
Although an intriguing tale, one drawback to the novel revolves around the narrative structure, which frequently alternates perspectives. This necessitates some effort to keep the characters separate in the reader’s mind and causes the pacing to suffer at times.
Yet Acevedo’s prose is undeniably brilliant and draws the reader in her deftly executed tale of magical realism, that spans both cities and countries.
Acevedo’s work serves as a source of inspiration for young readers, encouraging them to embrace their own narratives.
“Gloria Imagined” AI Generated Art, 2023
Gloria Anzaldúa, a Chicana author, poet, and activist, is most notably recognized for her seminal work, “Borderlands/La Frontera: The New Mestiza.” Anzaldúa’s literary pieces challenge the traditional limits in Chicana writing by exploring the connections between identity and language, and the borders that are breached through constant codeswitching and cultural erasure, which are products of racist systems. Her work mainly delves into the experiences of those living in border regions, particularly between Mexico and America. Anzaldúa developed a Mestiza Consciousness by drawing on Indigenous Mythology, personal introspection, and feminist narratives from women of color. This consciousness is formed by the collision of these diverse identities.
Key elements of the new mestiza consciousness include:
- Hybrid Identity: Anzaldúa emphasizes the complex nature of the new mestiza identity, where individuals navigate multiple identities, languages, and cultures.
- Borderlands Experience: Anzaldúa’s work is deeply rooted in the borderlands experience, where individuals face the challenges and opportunities of living in a region marked by cultural and political tensions. She sees this experience as a metaphor for the broader struggles of marginalized and oppressed communities.
- Spiritual Elements: Anzaldúa incorporates Indigenous myths, spirituality, and symbolism into her exploration of the new mestiza consciousness. She views spirituality as a source of strength and resilience for those navigating complex identities.
- Resistance and Transformation: Anzaldúa’s concept of new mestiza consciousness also involves resistance to oppressive systems and the potential for personal and collective transformation. She encourages individuals to embrace their unique identities and challenge societal norms.
The notion of New Mestiza Consciousness plays a fundamental role in Chicana and borderlands studies. It provides a structure for comprehending the intricate and ever-changing aspects of identity in multicultural societies. Additionally, it emphasizes the strength and control of individuals who navigate the intricacies of borderland living, and one we can thank Anzaldúa for tirelessly highlighting.
To learn more about National Hispanic Heritage Month, you can vist the Library of Congress’ website.