A Reading List for National Hispanic Heritage Month 2021

For National Hispanic Heritage Month, observed annually from September 15 to October 15, we asked our members—independent presses, literary journals, and others—to share with us some of the literature they recommend reading in celebration. (Learn more about National Hispanic Heritage Month here.)



Things to Pack on the Way to Everywhere by Grisel Y. Acosta

Get Fresh Books Publishing | 2021

This poetry collection “is a blueprint for Afro-Latinx adventurers who want to keep their sanity in a world that does not value the history or contributions of Black/Latinx women.”




The New York City Subway Poems / Poemas del Metro de Nueva York by Carlos Aguasaco

Ashland Poetry Press | 2020

According to Ahmad Alshahawy, Aguasaco’s poetry collection—translated from the Spanish by Carol O’Flynn—“reveals him as a wounded, yet defiant poet, master of a layered tongue, far from conventional or traditional styles.”



Prayers of Little Consequence by Gilbert Arzola

Passager Books | 2020

According to Irena Praitis, Arzola’s poems “craft an inviting space for readers: We enter, sit down, accept the tea, stir in sugar, then look up toward a shift in perspective only a skilled magician could manage.”




When the Body Says It’s Leaving by Pansy Maurer-Alvarez

Hanging Loose Press | 2004

According to the late Harvey Shapiro, Maurer-Alvarez is “able to translate all the seen and unseen promptings of the day into colorful, sometimes surreal, imagery and musical lines, making this a rich book, a book of hours from those lucky enough to obtain it.”




Now in Color by Jacqueline Balderrama

Perugia Press | 2020

Balderrama’s debut poetry collection “explores the multigenerational immigrant experience of Mexican-Americans who have escaped violence, faced pressures to assimilate, and now seek to reconnect to a fragmented past.”




Turn Around BRXGHT XYXS by Rosebud Ben-Oni 

Get Fresh Books Publishing | 2019

According to Rachel McKibbens, Ben-Oni “is doing sacred work here, strutting across the asperous terrain of our modern world with a queer femme sovereignty that intoxicates and heals.”




We Find Each Other in the Darkness by Richard Boada

Texas A&M University Press | 2020

The poems in this collection “emphasize an unraveling of localized places, such as the urbanization of Jackson, the rural Mississippi Delta, and the ecologically fragile Gulf Coast, through surreal and magically real points of view.”




Cenzontle by Marcelo Hernandez Castillo

BOA Editions | 2018

Winner of the A. Poulin, Jr. Poetry Prize, Castillo’s debut poetry collection is “a nuanced narrative of life before, during, and after crossing the US/Mexico border.”




Puro Amor by Sandra Cisneros

Sarabande Books | 2018

This bilingual chapbook, which includes line drawings by Cisneros, features “hairless dogs, monkeys, a fawn, a ‘passionate’ Guacamaya macaw, tarantulas, an iguana,” and other animals.




Borderland Apocrypha by Anthony Cody

Omnidawn | 2020

In this debut poetry collection, Cody examines a series of lynchings after the Mexican-American War, following “the collective histories of these terrors” and “excavating the traumas born of turbulence at borderlands.”




Tracing the Horse by Diana Marie Delgado

BOA Editions | 2019

This debut poetry collection “follows the coming-of-age of a young Mexican-American woman trying to make sense of who she is amidst a family and community weighted by violence and addiction.”




Thrown in the Throat by Benjamin Garcia

Milkweed Editions | 2020

Selected by Kazim Ali as a winner of the 2019 National Poetry Series, Garcia’s debut poetry collection is “a sex-positive incantation that retextures what it is to write a queer life amidst troubled times.”




The City She Was by Carmen Giménez Smith

Center for Literary Publishing | 2011

According to Matthea Harvey, in this poetry collection Giménez Smith “muddles and enchants with her many masks, leaving the ground a little less stable under our feet.”




Bridge of the World by Roberto Harrison

Litmus Press | 2017

This poetry collection “maps multiple transits between mental, spiritual, and geographic topographies, pivoting on the experience of dislocation from Panama and Latinidad.”




On the Tip of Your Mother’s Tongue by JP Infante

Thirty West Publishing House | 2017

This debut prose poetry chapbook and winner of the 4th Annual Thirty West chapbook contest “tells the story of a son grappling with his mother’s mental health in New York City.”




Gentefication by Antonio de Jesús López 

Four Way Books | 2021

This debut poetry collection “nuances Latinidad as not just an immigration question, but an academic one” and “deals with Latinx death not as the literal passing of bodies, but as first tied with language.”




Ten Thousand Selves by Chloe Martinez

The Word Works | 2021

According to Adrian Matejka, this poetry collection “immerses us in a complicated poetic in which the geographies of the self are transposed and transformed by the geographies of the external world.”




Psaltery and Serpentines by Cecilia Martínez-Gil

Gival Press | 2010

Winner of the 2009 Gival Press Poetry Award, Psaltery and Serpentines is, according to Gail Wronsky, “a luscious and lustrous collection of poems, a delightful first book from a poet who demonstrates convincingly here both the gravity and the joy of her calling.”




The Island Kingdom by Pablo Medina

Hanging Loose Press | 2015

According to Bill Zavatsky, “The color, grace, music and energy that fill these pages ought to harken us (again) to Medina’s mastery, for a master-poet he is.”




Tortillera by Caridad Moro-Gronlier

Texas Review Press | 2021

The poems in this debut collection consider “the heartrending consequences of compulsory heterosexuality, as well as the patriarchal stamp emblazoned on the Cuban diaspora.”




Citizen Illegal by José Olivarez

Haymarket Books | 2018

In this debut poetry collection, Olivarez “explores the stories, contradictions, joys, and sorrows that embody life in the spaces between Mexico and America.”




Hurricanes, Love Affairs and Other Disasters by Susana Praver-Pérez

Nomadic Press | 2021

According to Naomi H. Quiñonez, this poetry collection “bridges the intimate relationships among  culture, society and nature to expose what is broken, damaged and diseased in our lives.”




The Verging Cities by Natalie Scenters-Zapico

Center for Literary Publishing | 2015

This debut collection “is filled with explorations of immigration and marriage, narco-violence and femicide, and angels in the domestic sphere.”





Boys, Lost & Found by Charles Casillo

Gival Press | 2006

This collection of fiction, memoir, and biographical sketches “reveals a heartfelt observer of life’s emotional emergencies and indignities told with immediacy and feeling.”




Check Engine and Other Stories by Jennifer Companik

Thirty West Publishing House | 2021

This debut short fiction collection features ten stories exploring “duality in gender roles & expectations, married and unmarried, ghosts and death.”




Mourning by Eduardo Halfon

Bellevue Literary Press | 2018

Translated from the Spanish by Lisa Dillman and Daniel Hahn, Mourning features an eponymous narrator who “travels to Poland, Italy, the U.S., and the Guatemalan countryside in search of secrets he can barely name.”




Like This Afternoon Forever by Jaime Manrique

Akashic Books | 2019

In this novel, “two Catholic priests fall in love amid deadly conflicts in the Amazon between the Colombian government, insurgent groups, and drug cartels.”




This Fierce Blood by Malia Márquez

Acre Books | 2021

This novel “combines magical realism with themes of maternal ancestral inheritance, and also explores the ways Hispano/Indigenous traditions both conflicted and wove together, shaping the distinctive character of the American Southwest.”




The Transients by Sergio Missana

McPherson & Company | 2021

Translated from the Spanish by Jessica Powell, this novel is “a bewitching puzzle-box with a propulsive plot, as well as a high-wire act of prose, at its core lies a metaphysical mystery that ensnares both the protagonist and the reader.”




The Sky Weeps for Me by Sergio Ramírez

McPherson & Company | 2020

Translated from the Spanish by Leland H. Chambers with Bruce McPherson, this novel explores “a maze of deception, corruption, and murders” and “a dangerous, international conspiracy.”




Heartland by Ana Simo

Restless Books | 2018

This debut novel is “the uproarious story of a thwarted writer’s elaborate revenge on the woman who stole her lover, blending elements of telenovela, pulp noir, and dystopian satire.”




ELPASO: A Punk Story by Benjamin Villegas

Deep Vellum | 2021

Translated from the Spanish by Jay Noden, this novel “explores the history of a Texas border-town punk band that is too good to be true.”






Black Dove: Mamá, Mi’jo, and Me by Ana Castillo

Feminist Press | 2016

This memoir “looks at what it means to be a single, brown, feminist parent in a world of mass incarceration, racial profiling, and police brutality” and “narrates some of America’s most heated political debates and urgent social injustices through the oft-neglected lens of motherhood and family.”




Knitting the Fog by Claudia D. Hernández

Feminist Press | 2019

Hernández’s debut memoir “follows her tumultuous adolescence and fraught homecomings as she crisscrosses the American continent.”




Particulate Matter by Felicia Luna Lemus

Akashic Books | 2020

Set in Los Angeles, this memoir is Lemus’s “collection of still lifes, landscapes, and portraits of a challenging year that threatened all she loved most.”





The Breakbeat Poets Vol. 4: LatiNext

Haymarket Books | 2020

Edited by Felicia Chavez, José Olivarez, and Willie Perdomo, this anthology “opposes silence and re-mixes the soundtrack of the Latinx diaspora across diverse poetic traditions.”




Multiverse: An Anthology of Young Latinx Writers

Nomadic Press | 2021

The poems in this anthology of work from six young Latinx writers “explore topics such as belonging, society, family, and most importantly, what it means to be us.”




Puerto Rico en mi corazónPuerto Rico en mi corazón

Anomalous Press | 2019

This anthology, edited by Erica Mena, Raquel Salas Rivera, Ricardo Maldonado, and Carina del Valle Schorske, bilingually presents work by forty contemporary Puerto Rican poets. The book began out of a project to raise money for Hurricane Maria relief.




Hybrid & Performance Works


When You Rise Up by Miguel Gutierrez

53rd State Press | Reprinted in 2018

When You Rise Up “collects texts by choreographer Miguel Gutierrez, a relentlessly exploratory figure in the contemporary dance scene.”




Anti-Humboldt by Hugo García Manríquez

Litmus Press | 2015

This bilingual erasure of the North American Free Trade Agreement, in English and Spanish, “is a bilingual artifact that interrupts and re-politicizes NAFTA’s neoliberal language.”




Portrait of a Deputy Public Defender (or, how I became a punk rock lawyer) by Juanita E. Mantz

Bamboo Dart Press | 2021

This multi-genre chapbook of memoir pieces, social justice essays, and poetry “describes the author’s love of punk rock and her quest to challenge the system of mass incarceration as a deputy public defender.”




The Javier Plays by Carlos Murillo

53rd State Press | 2016

This collection’s essays and plays—including Diagram of a Paper Airplane and Your Name Will Follow You Home—are, according to Todd London, “like America itself—its violence, its identity crises, its homegrown art, its shape in the eye of the immigrant.”




Popol Vuh: A Retelling by Ilan Stavans

Restless Books | 2020

Illustrated by Gabriela Larios and introduced by Homero Aridjis, this is “an inspired and urgent prose retelling of the Maya myth of creation.”




Literary Magazines


“Caul” by Cristi Donoso Best

Cincinnati Review | 2021

According to Associate Editor Lisa Low, “the scene of the calf birth evokes the speaker’s own coming into being, leaving us to contemplate how a sense of self forms in childhood.”




“Patriotic Sex” by Odette Casamayor-Cisneros

New England Review | Volume 42, Issue 1

This short story is from the feature From Granma to Boston and Havana and Back and is translated from the Spanish by Erin Goodman. It begins, “‘Well, well, if it isn’t a child of Zunilda…’”




“Rivers” by Yalitza Ferreras

Bellevue Literary Review | Issue 38

Winner of the 2020 Goldenberg Prize for Fiction, this short story begins, “Aunt #1’s plastic toilet lid shifts under Manolo’s weight as he balances his left ankle on his right knee, careful so his leg doesn’t slide off his sweatpants.”




“Origins” and “Chameleon or Thinking About My Mother the Sparrow” by Ysabel Y. Gonzalez

Dark Matter: Women Witnessing | Issue 13

About “Origins,” Gonzalez says, “This poem holds in its hands two leading women in my life–my mother (living) and grandmother (who has passed), both of whom continue to guide me.”



“Latinx Heritage Month” by Melissa Lujan Mesku

Creative Nonfiction | Issue 74

In this essay, Mesku interrogates the idea and the reality of heritage months. The essay begins, “I work at a start-up. In the kitchen there is a flat-screen TV displaying inspirational quotes.”





Contrapuntos | Volume VIII

Contrapuntos is a literary magazine that publishes literary criticism, poetry, prose, essays, photography, and art. The magazine publishes works in many languages, focusing on Spanish works written, produced, and distributed mainly in the United States. Contrapuntos VIII includes photographic curation by Indira Yadira Ariana García Varela, poetry by Radoslav Rochallyi and Ashley A. Arnold, visual poetics by Yuan Hongri, and more.




“The World’s Second Shortest Story” by César Pérez

New England Review | Volume 42, Issue 1

This short story is from the feature From Granma to Boston and Havana and Back and is translated from the Spanish by the author. It begins, “This story was going to be an homage to Augusto Monterroso, hero of magnificent brevity, author of the famous one-line novel: ‘When s/he woke up, the dinosaur was still there.’”




“What We Lost” by Brenda Peynado

The Sun | Issue 105

This short story begins, “We were losing parts of ourselves. A reporter discovered a trove of ears in a burlap sack.”




De Puerto Rico: Un año después de la tormenta / From Puerto Rico: One year after the storm

The Common | Issue 16

This issue of The Common features a folio of stories, essays, poems, and artwork by Puerto Rican writers and artists, reflecting on Hurricane Maria and its aftermath.




“Fear of a Black Superman” by Alexander Ramirez

Full Bleed | 2020

Ramirez considers superheroes, childhood, and race in this illustrated essay that begins, “I was four years old the day Superman died.”




Readings for Latinx and Hispanic Heritage Month

The Common

This collection of readings includes poetry, fiction, and interviews by Jose Hernandez Diaz, Francisco Márquez, Ricardo Alberto Maldonado, Gabrielle Lucille Fuentes, and more.




“Four Snakes Makes Our Flag” by C.T. Salazar

Cincinnati Review | 2021

According to Managing Editor Lisa Ampleman, “The imagery—milkweed, dog tags, swans, dirt—is prototypically American, as is the motif of burying things (including our flaws as a country) and, thus, trying to forget them.”




Within (and Without) These Borders: Writing from the US

Words Without Borders | 2017

The eleven writers in this issue, which features work by international writers living in the United States and writing in languages other than English, “expand both our sense of literary creativity and our understanding of life within, and without, the boundaries of this country.”