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Eight Chicana poets every reader should know

April 7, 2009
  1. Ana Castillo
    castillo_anaA 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.
  2. 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
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.
  8. 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?
10 Comments leave one →
  1. April 7, 2009 12:11 pm

    • Gloria Anzaldúa, author of Borderlands/La Frontera

    • Cherie Moraga, author of Loving in the War Years: Lo Que Nunca Pasó Por Sus Labios

    • Lucha Corpi, author of Palabras de Mediodia/Noon Words (and more)

    • Naomi Quiñonez, author of Sueno de Colibri/Hummingbird Dream and The Smoking Mirror

    • Pat Mora, author of Aunt Carmen’s Book of Practical Saints (and more)

    • Nina Serrano,author of Heartsongs: The Collected Poems of Nina Serrano

    • Sheryl Luna, author of Pity the Drowned Horses, winner of the first Andrés Montoya Poetry Prize

  2. anisa permalink*
    April 7, 2009 12:30 pm

    Great list! Thanks for the input Oscar..

  3. Chuck Taylor permalink
    April 7, 2011 7:06 pm

    I see I’m a bit behind on my reading. I wrote an essay on Sandra Cisneros’ poetry in an issue of the web magazine, Texas Women Writers.

  4. Sarah permalink
    December 11, 2012 9:40 am

    Gloria Velásquez, I am writing an essay on I Used to Be a Superwoman Chicana. It is an awesome and very much overlooked collection.

  5. December 13, 2013 9:58 am

    A wonderful student just sent this to me…I’m in L.A. teaching, have been living in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico lindo y querido for 9 years. Just to add my fiction: ‘THE ULTRAVIOLET SKY (won American Book Award), ‘NAKED LADIES’ (won PEN-Oakland Fiction Award), ‘LUNA’S CALIFORNIA POPPIES’ (just excerpted in ‘CALIFLORA…I hear from many middle/high school students, as well as university students, all my novels), and just published, ‘SONG OF THE GOLDEN SCORPION’ (hearing from E-book readers from Asia to Europe, Latin America, and USA…E-books are wonderful). ‘WEEPING WOMAN, LA LLORONA AND OTHER STORIES’ (many stories republished in anthologies, textbooks)- a new book of poetry, ‘GRACIAS,’ to be published in 2014, look for it on Amazon. Here’s my Authors Guild web site… Gracias….xoxo

  6. December 13, 2013 10:01 am

    ***I love this list of Xicana writers/poets…I teach many of them, of course. Continue the good work, todos…

  7. December 14, 2013 2:11 pm

    Reblogged this on Astigmatic Revelations.

  8. December 14, 2013 3:38 pm

    Brilliant and needed additions by Oscar. Gloria Anzaldua and Cherrie Moraga, part of the heart and soul of this movement. And who could pass up Naomi Quinonez’ chorus of “Go Mango”?


  1. A list of Chicana poets worth perusing | chicanaliteratura345d
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