Best Lines of Latino Poetry

8 poets disclose their favorite lines of poetry

1:53 am on 04/27/2013

April is not only the month of spring showers, but of flowing prose. For National Poetry Month, NBC Latino reached out to Latino poets around the country to find out which other Latino poets inspire them most.

1. Nuyorican spoken word poet and author Giannina Braschi’s favorite line from a poem is by César Vallejo:

I want to live always, even on my belly,
because, as I was saying and I say it again,
so much life and never! And so many years,
and always, lots of always, always, always!
(Translation by Tess O’Dwyer)

“Vallejo is a jack-in-the-box who performs the movement of my spirit,” says Braschi. “No matter how much you push him down into the box, the poet always bounces back to affirm his love for life.”

2. Poet and educator Lupe Méndez’ favorite poem is Martin Espada’s “Sing Zapatista:”

Martín Espada

Sing the word zapateado, tap and stamp of women dancing in the plaza
to the hummingbird rhythms of Veracruz, guitarist in fedora
watching his fingers skitter like scarabs across the wood,
shawled dancer lost in the percussion of her feet.

“The poem lays out the backdrop of the Zapatista movement and repeats the line “Sing the word” to different images,” says Méndez. “A very well written piece. One of my favorite lines.”

3. San Antonio’s Poet Laureate Dr. Carmen Tafolla’s favorite line of poetry is by Demetria Martinez:

I’m the one Spanish word
You forgot to look up
That might have given meaning
To your life sentence.

4. Author of “Rooted,” and now the new “Re-Routed,” hitting shelves May 9, Francesca Maxime, loves a line in “Gentleman alone,” by Pablo Neruda:

This twisted and breathing forest crushes me
With gigantic flowers like mouth and teeth
And black roots like fingernails and shoes.

“This passage reminds me of what/how I felt when I first moved to New York City, and how far I’ve come from thinking about the city that way since,” says Maxime. “I think it can still be oppressive at times, but not in a suffocating way, just an intense way.”

RELATED: Celebrating legendary poet, Federico Garcia Lorca

5. Peggy Robles Alvarado, author of “Conversations With My Skin” and “Homage to the Warrior Women,” featured recently in HBO Latino’s “Habla Women,” enjoys a poem called “Bomba, Para Siempre” by Tato Laviera:

bomba: we know we are electricity, we know we are a sun;
bomba:  bring in the jazz, and merengue, blend Africa

“These verses speak to who I am as a Latina of Dominican and Puerto Rican descent born in the United States, and to the vivacity and rhythm with which I live my life set to my own beautiful beat. Bomba!,” says Alvarado.

6.  Maria Aponte, author of “Transitions of a Nuyorican Cinderella,” admires poet Louis Reyes Rivera. Her favorite line is from poem “Continuum from Scattered Scripture:”

he does not know that much / but knows enough to know / the gap between the friction / of another aging generation / disallows a firmer grip on how & why / to mold these days / beyond the grave of repetition.

“Louis Reyes Rivera was one of my mentors/scholars of the Nuyorican Poetry Movement that I grew up in,” says Aponte. “He taught me to give of myself to help others to open the doors to next generation of poets. His love of his people and historian of Afro-Latinos gave me courage to ‘write from my heart’ as he always told me.”

7. Tammy Gomez, a Mexican-American Texas-born writer has over 20 years of experience in producing, directing, and hosting literary performance events, and has curated the Poetry Tent readings for the Texas Book Festival for six consecutive years. She is especially moved by a line in “Help Me Believe We Will Not Be the Last People on Earth,” by Gioconda Belli (as translated by Steven F. White):

That’s why I’m determined to wield these poems
and build a small place of happiness come hell or high water,
and maintain the faith that…we will not be the last people on earth,
that we’ll be spared when the Empire destroys itself.

8. Jesús Papoleto Meléndez, poet, author of “Hey Yo/Yo Soy – 40 Years of Nuyorican Street Poetry,” finds one line in Pedro Pietri’s “Puerto Rican Obituary” especially profound:

Aqui to be called negrito, means to be called love.

“Brilliantly, in this one line, master poet Pedro Pietri manages to encompass the enigma of the power of self-love,” says Meléndez. “He reminds us here, at the end of his seminal poem, ‘Puerto Rican Obituary,’ that we are all one – even in identifying ourselves with a particular culture, and therefore embraced by it, or by acknowledging the entirety of humanity as family; and, that color, in fact, in the final analysis, doesn’t matter – that what, indeed, matters is love, and the unity of love’s charity. In this way, it reminds us of who we are.”

RELATED: Poet Richard Blanco reveals what it was like at the inauguration​Martinez

Senate immigration bill revealed: A path to citizenship, shift to employment-based visas 










LETRAS LATINAS BLOG: Latino/a Poetry Now Featured Poets

Latina Author & Poet Pat Mora Talks About Poetry for Children

More results from Mamiverse

Worldview: a crisis for democracy, the Latino Film Festival, and a

5 Bilingual children’s books for National Poetry Month – NBC Latino


More results from Somos en escrito

Richard Blanco becomes America’s first Latino, openly gay

Latino/a Poetry Now – Notre Dame News – University of Notre Dame

More results from Notre Dame News // Notre Dame News

Video: ‘The Latino poet of his generation’ uses verse to break ‘taken

More results from Latina Lista: News from the Latino perspective

Obama Selects Gay Latino Poet Richard Blanco to Read at

Latino Poetry Festival Kicks Off in Chicago – Hispanically Speaking

More results from Hispanically Speaking News Global Feed

First Gay Latino Poet Selected as Inaugural Poet by President Obama

Obama taps gay Latino poet for 2nd inauguration – Feministing

Richard Blanco: Latino makes history with inaugural poem – Voxxi

La Bloga: Latina Poet Laureate. Bloguista in Aridzona 1

More results from La Bloga

The Latino Writer: patterns | National Poetry Month

Openly gay, Latino poet to read original poem at Obama’s – GayRVA

Award Winning poet Juan Herrera leaves students inspired | Courier

Latino Poet Blanco: Poetry Personal, Yet Universal | Latino Times

More results from Latino News for Hispanics on Social Media

Openly Gay Cuban Poet Richard Blanco To Read At Obama

Richard Blanco is First Latino Inaugural Poet – Writers Write

Dead Poets … Sold Out Bards … The “P” in Poetry is “P”olitical

Openly Gay Hispanic-American Selected As Inaugural Poet – Livewire

It’s the first time a Latino and openly gay poet has been a part of the

TheThe Year in Review: The Other Latin – The Best American Poetry

Gay Latino Poet brings diversity to Presidential Inaugural

Poetry for Children: Blast from the Poetry Past: 1990

More results from Poetry for Children

Thirty Essential Poetry Titles for Spring 2013 – Library Journal Reviews

‘Selected Poems: 1965-1995 (Miami University Press Poetry) bo

“AM I LATINA? OR AM I JUST ANGRY?” (by Sandy Florian

More results from Migrare | Migrate | Change

The Hazards of Inaugural Poetry – The Chronicle of Higher Education

Def Poetry Jam Remembered – Empower Network…/def-poetry-jam/?id…

Café Latino Poetry Reading and Music – Your Language Connection

The VII New York Book Fair Expo 2012 | newyorkbookfairexpo

Interview with Martin Espada – Mass Poetry


More results from Mass Poetry

“Speaking” with Poet Dan Vera | Living Out | Long Island Life, GLBT

Brown names state’s first Latino poet laureate – Political Blotter

Chicanísima Cultural Calendar: April 2013 | Chicanísima: Latino…

More results from Chicanísima: Latino politics, news and culture

Obama picks gay Latino poet for his inauguration | InfiniteBody

First Gay, Latino Inaugural Poet Chosen by President Obama

Jan 9, 2013 by unfinishedlives

In one historic move, President Obama has chosen the first gay man, the first Latino, and the youngest inaugural poet in U.S. history. According to Huffington Post, Blanco will recite a poem at the presidential swearing-in

Richard Blanco, Inaugural Poet, Reads Original Poem “One Today”

More results from Freelance Writing

FIU’s Richard Blanco, First Latino Inaugural Poet | WUM

The Hazards of Inaugural Poetry – The Chronicle of Higher Education

Barker Center Hosts National Latino/a Poetry Now Event | The…

Linda Rodriguez Writes: Learning the Art and Craft of Poetry (Part

More results from Linda Rodriguez Writes

Latinas For Latino Literature Presents Mara Price – Mama Latina Tips

Latina discovers talent for poetry by saying random words slowly

HispanicTrending: Richard Blanco Will Be First Latino Inaugural Poet

Label Me Latina/o Spring 2013 Volume III

More results from Label Me Latina/o

National Events – Poetry Society of America

More results from Poetry Society of America: Recently added items

Blog This Rock: Latino/a Poetry Books Published in 2012

Martín Espada- – Poetry, Poems, Bios & More

El Efecto Mariposa 2 La Película Completa – Songs and Poetry – Translate this page

Inaugural Poet Richard Blanco visits OLLU –

Slow Lightning and Eduardo Corral: Yale’s First Latino Younger Poet

Libertad lingüística in the latino poetry that lives in USA – Translate this page

Poetry: Hispanic Poem

La Bruja Drops Hispanic Poetry and Hip-Hop on University | Daniel

Hispanic poetry in Egypt | Metaglossia: The Tra… –…/thesaurus-co…

The Society for Renaissance and Baroque Hispanic Poetry » Blog

Poesias castellanas completas/ Complete Spanish Poetry (Letras

Worldview: a crisis for democracy, the Latino Film Festival, and a

The Poetry and Poetics Colloquium at Northwestern University

Latino/a Poetry Now – Notre Dame News – University of Notre Dame

Spanish books for kids to read about poetry | Spanish4Kiddos

Ernesto Estrella | subverso | subverso – Translate this page

Bushwick Mural Uses Spanish Poetry to Capture Diversity

Celebrating legendary poet, Federico Garcia Lorca – NBC Latino

Latino Poetry Festival Kicks Off in Chicago – Hispanically Speaking

More results from Hispanically Speaking News Global Feed

Caribbean Poetry Workshop to Impact Poetry Teaching | Repeating

More results from VOXXI

Platform Poetry | Global City NYC

Hispanic Poetry Showcase at The Underground Coffee House

Latino Artists showcased at Cinco de Mayo | community of – LAM

Hispanic Studies Journals: Hispanic Poetry Review

Poetry Slam Chile – Panoramas Gratis – Translate this page

Cuaderno Latinoamericano: some poetry

POETRY SLAM GUATEMALA | LETREO – Translate this page

The World Poetry Movement | Centre for Creative Arts

cuando entré al bar | Nihilistic Poetry – Translate this page

The Poets and Artists | Center For Women’s Intercultural Leadership

Northfield’s Arts and Culture Commission 2013 Sidewalk Poetry

arte nuevo: THE OXFORD BOOK OF LATIN AMERICAN POETRY – Translate this page

José Martí, pensador, periodista, patriota cubano y latinoamericano – Translate this page

LAN Presents CA Poet Laureate Juan Felipe Herrera | LAN

When an Issue of a Newspaper Is a Poem – PageView – The

52 Books in 52 Weeks: BW15: Latin American Poetry

Robert Pinsky On The Best American Poetry » Public Relations

Counterpath – Norton Anthology of Postmodern American Poetry

Featuring: The Gaus Poetry Collection at the University of Wisconsin

Some Hells Are Real: Postmodern American Poetry, 2nd Edition

Brett Fletcher Lauer: Poetry (Society of America) in Motion – Guernica…/white_canvas_house/

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s