Eight Chicana poets every reader should know
April 7, 2009
- Ana Castillo
A self-described “Chicana protest poet,” Castillo’s work explores the meaning of Xicanisma and deals with issues of race, gender, sexuality, patriarchy, oppression and religion. Her books of poetry include: I Ask the Impossible, My Father Was a Toltec, Women Are Not Roses, The Invitation, and Otro Canto.
Read Castillo’s poem Coatlicue’s Legacy HERE.
- Lorna Dee Cervantes
Known for her use of vivid language and imagery, Cervantes’ work often addresses racism, feminism and politics, as well as the poet’s relationship to words. Her debut collection Emplumada earned the American Book Award in 1982. Other books include: From the Cables of Genocide: Poems on Love and Hunger, Drive: The First Quartet
- Sandra Cisneros
Cisneros’ feelings of alienation in her early years, especially in academics, was at the root of her finding her voice as a poet and writer. Since then she’s “become the representative Chicana in the reconstruction of the [literary] canon.” Her books of poetry include Loose Woman, My Wicked Wicked Ways, The Rodrigo Poems, and Bad Boys.
- Alicia Gaspar de Alba
Also known as a scholar and historian, Gaspar de Alba’s interests range from pop culture and border studies, to gender, sexuality and Chicano/a art. But as stated at her website, “Alicia considers herself a writer primero que nada.” Gaspar de Alba is Chair and Professor of Chicano Studies at UCLA. Her books include La Llorona on the Longfellow Bridge: poetry y otras movidas, Beggar on the Cordoba Bridge, and a collection of poems in Three Times A Woman: Chicana Poetry.
- Angela de Hoyos
Often cited as one of the first Chicana poets in the Chicano literary renaissance movement, de Hoyos poetry is highly political and addresses the social circumstances of the Chicano. Her books include Woman Woman, Selecciones, Poems/Poemas, Chicano poems from the Barrio, Arise Chicano!: and other poems.
- Demetria Martinez
A columnist, social activist, journalist and essayist, Martinez is drawn to issues of immigration, women’s rights, and spirituality. Her books of poetry include Turning, Breathing Between the Lines, and The Devil’s Workshop.
- Carmen Tafolla
A master of bilingual code-switching, much of Tafolla’s poetry is autobiographical in nature and explores the world of Tex-Mex barrios. Much of her work, she says, is dictated by “ancestors whispering over my shoulder.” Her book of poetry, Sonnets to Human Beings, received the First Prize in the Poetry Division of the UCI National Literary Competition. Other books are Sonnets and Salsa, Sonnets to Human Beings, and Get Your Tortillas Together.
- Alma Villanueva
The sanctity of female community is a common thread in Villanueva’s writings, as well as is the longing for voice and the pursuit to be heard. This likely comes from the experience of living through a difficult childhood. Villanueva also explores identity, race, gender, authenticity, nature, language, myth, the personal and political. Her books of poetry include Vida, Desire, and most recently, Soft Chaos.I’m sure there are some I’ve forgotten to add. Any suggestions?