National Hispanic Heritage Month is September 15 to October 15! BOA is honored and grateful for the voices of Hispanic and Latinx writers who have enriched our culture. Here are four collections from BOA authors to help you celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month.
Out of the dust and mud, Ray Gonzales’s Beautiful Wall rises. Infused with a deep understanding of place, often set in the deserts of Mexico and the American Southwest, these poems follow the everyday gods, past and present, that hover nearby. Testimonials to injustice and homages to ancestors come alongside dreamy journeys beside cacti and cottonwoods, all richly depicted in verse. Through this body of work, Gonzales brings artists, soldiers, writers, family, historical figures, and contemporaries into the foreground, challenging all who read Beautiful Wall to consider the people that make us stop, wonder, and reassess our lives.
Diana Marie Delgado's debut Tracing the Horse is a poignant and moving picture of growing up in the San Gabriel Valley. Threaded with cultural and familial history, the mystery of the Devil come to life, and the complex symbol of the horse, Delgado helps readers enter into the rhythms of her life, showcasing honesty and grace, intermixed with pain. Rarely does a poem fail to mention mother, father, or brother, each of these figures casting shadows into the nights of Delgado’s poems, exploring the hurts and joys that come with family. Delgado offers:
“Come back with me
to the ruins…
I can show you
what the wind
and I did”
These lines signal what Tracing the Horse is: a work of trust that allows readers to witness how sexuality, violence, innocence, and loneliness shape the development of the self.
In Richard Garcia's The Chair, the world as we know it is a thing of the past. It has been replaced by a fantastical, surreal universe that is constantly in motion, where nothing is what it appears to be. From Felsenfeld's transformation into No One and then into Nobody, to the nude beaches that are devoid of rocks and sand rather than clothes, Garcia leaves readers thrilled with the possibility that the mundane can become extraordinarily—and sometimes horrifyingly—unexpected. The Chair is a transport above all, taking readers on a journey into the joining of fact and fiction, infusing us with hopeful curiosity and inviting us to "[stand] knee-deep in the ocean and raise our empty glasses to the rain."
From the cover of Marcelo Hernandez Castillo’s Cenzotle to the last poem, this work is beautifully shadowed in blue. Castillo’s poems speak of love and loss, fear and solace, laced with a physicality and earthiness that draws readers into the depths of their pain and desire. Always there linger the questions—of disunity, of belonging to people and places that are sometimes hostile, of what love should and should not be. Castillo writes:
Let’s keep waking underwater
until one of us gets it right
a bold assertion that, despite the shades of pain that permeate life, one day someone will wake up and get things right.
Genevieve Hartman is a fall intern at BOA and a recent graduate of Houghton College. She hopes to pursue graduate studies in Creative Writing or English next fall.