Poet LiYun Alvarado’s Contemporary Puerto Rican Reading List

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By Centro Staff

Good writers are more often than not, good readers as well, which is why this week we’re sharing poet LiYun Alvarado’s reading list, featuring contemporary and classic writers of the Nuyorican School and beyond. See below for the full text:

I just picked up Urayoán Noel’s newest collection Buzzing Hemisphere / Rumor Hemisférico and it’s full of irreverent language play. I especially like the poem “Décimas del Otro Mundo / Otherworldly Décimas.” Magdalena Gómez’ Shameless Woman is an instant classic because it brings together some of Gómez’s best poems into one long-overdue collection. Both Noel and Gómez, along with Evie Shockley, were kind enough to read Words or Water and provide brief review blurbs for the collection. 

Two must-read fellow Boricua poets representing the Los Angeles area are Luivette Resto and Blas Falconer. Blas and I have a special connection because both of our families are from Salinas, Puerto Rico! Like me, he often writes about our little town on the southern coast of the island. Representing San Diego is Mexi-Rican Lizz Huerta, who writes in several genres including poetry and whose short story “I, Succubus” was recently chosen by Roxane Gay as the winner of the Lumina Fiction Contest.

I’ve got so much love for contemporary Rican poets. Here are just a few whose works are on my shelves or in my heart: Willie Perdomo, Sandra María Esteves, Rich Villar, Jani Rose, Edwin Torres, Raina J. León, María Luisa Arroyo, Mayra Santos Febres, and Aracelis Girmay, among many many others.

Everyone should read Pedro Pietri. I also recommend Nuyorican Poetry: An Anthology of Puerto Rican Words and Feelings and Urayoán Noel’s book about the evolution of Nuyorican poetry, In Visible Movement: Nuyorican Poetry from the Sixties to Slam. Another must read is the more recent anthology: Breaking Ground: Anthology of Puerto Rican Women Writers in New York 1980-2012. These anthologies are a great place to start learning about the diversity that exists among Nuyorican poetic voices.

Finally, everyone should read Julia de Burgos’ poems, but I also recommend reading about Julia de Burgos’ life as well. Researching Julia de Burgos for a chapter in my dissertation and for an article I wrote about her New York poems (“Ambivalence and The Empire City: Julia de Burgos' New York”), deepened my appreciation for her work and for her hustle as a poet and as a thinker. I encourage everyone interested in de Burgos to read Vanessa Pérez-Rosario’s Becoming Julia de Burgos: the Making of a Puerto Rican Icon.

Centro Voices (ISSN: 2379-3864).
The views expressed here are those of the author and not necessarily those of Centro Voices, the Center for Puerto Rican Studies or Hunter College, CUNY.