Eighteen Inches book

Six Poetry Collections to Read During Hispanic Heritage Month

“Someday, somewhere — anywhere, unfailingly, you’ll find yourself, and that, and only that, can be the happiest or bitterest hour of your life.” —Pablo Neruda


Sept. 15 to Oct. 15 is Hispanic Heritage Month, and what better way to celebrate than by reading these six poetry collections written by Hispanic authors of the past and present?


Eighteen Inches by Mirtha Michelle

Bestselling Dominican-born author Mirtha Michelle’s latest work, Eighteen Inches (Sept. 2020), beautifully captures the journey she went through in finding herself. A complex series of poems, Eighteen Inches challenges readers to question everything, bridging the gap between a bruised heart and a hopeful future. Love, memories, new beginnings, and the female experience are all explored with raw honesty in Michelle’s collection.



Mother said I worried her.

She feared I loved too much.

She said,

“It worries me that you’ll always feel the need

to be the one who loves more. And there is pain

in that type of love.”



The Captain’s Verses by Pablo Neruda

Nobel Prize-winner Pablo Neruda will forever be known as one of the greatest Hispanic poets of all time. If you’re new to Neruda’s poetry, Neruda: Selected Works, written in both Spanish and English with translations by Anthony Kerrigan, is a great place to start. If you’re ready to dive a little deeper, The Captain’s Verses (1963, translated by Donald D. Walsh in 2009), which contains many of Neruda’s most well-known love poems, is a must-read. His poem “La Reina”—or “The Queen” in English—exemplifies Neruda’s ability to craft a love poem jam-packed with imagery and emotion.


The Queen

I have named you queen.

There are taller ones than you, taller.

There are purer ones than you, purer.

There are lovelier than you, lovelier.

But you are the queen.

When you go through the streets

no one recognizes you.

No one sees your crystal crown, no one looks

at the carpet of red gold

that you tread as you pass,

the nonexistent carpet.

And when you appear

all the rivers sound

in my body, bells

shake the sky,

and a hymn fills the world.

Only you and I,

only you and I, my love,

listen to it.



Bright Dead Things by Ada Limón

Poet Ada Limón is known for having written many critically acclaimed collections, including Sharks in the Rivers (2010), The Carrying (2018), and most recently Lucky Wreck: Poems (2021). Her 2015 collection Bright Dead Things—which was a finalist for the National Book Award and named one of the Top Ten Poetry Books of 2015 by the New York Times—dives into mortality, feminism, and introspection through Limón’s experience of moving from New York City to Kentucky. The human experience is put on display in the striking pieces reminding readers of how fragile and simple life is.


Field Bling

Nights when it’s warm

and no one is watching,

I walk to the edge

of the road and stare

at all the fireflies.

I squint and pretend

they’re hallucinations,

bright made-up waves

of the brain.

I call them,

field bling.

I call them,

fancy creepies.

It’s been a long time

since I’ve wanted to die,

it makes me feel

like taking off

my skin suit

and seeing how

my light flies all

on its own, neon

and bouncy like a

wannabe star.



In Real Life by Leticia Sala

Barcelona native Leticia Sala is no stranger to the poetry world, having published two hugely successful collections in recent years. Her latest book and U.S. debut In Real Life (Sept. 2020) uses poetry to illustrate both the struggles and advantages of love in the 21st century. Written in both English and Spanish, the poems tell the story of an across-the-globe romance that exists in a virtual world. Fresh and relatable, In Real Life is doused in authentic depictions of what it’s like to desire connection, even from across the world.


Behind my Eyes There’s a Sorrow


it is a complete sorrow.

doesn’t answer simply to what I see

but proliferates into

sorrows within sorrows

of places

and moments

strange to this one.


Selected Poems of Gabriela Mistral by Gabriela Mistral

Chilean American poet Gabriela Mistral left a massive mark on the poetry world during her lifetime. Translated to English by Ursula K. Le Guin, Selected Poems of Gabriela Mistral is a collection of pieces that Mistral wrote throughout her career and includes poems from all of her previous books. Mistral is known for her deeply empathetic work and dedication to causes, including women’s rights, politics, peace, and the preservation of Latin America. The poems that continue to be her legacy are remembered for their themes of love, social justice, womanhood, and Latin heritage.


I Am Not Alone

The night, it is deserted

from the mountains to the sea.

But I, the one who rocks you,

I am not alone! The sky, it is deserted

for the moon falls to the sea.

But I, the one who holds you,

I am not alone! The world, it is deserted.

All flesh is sad you see.

But I, the one who hugs you,

I am not alone!


Lovers in Theory by N.M. Sanchez

Cuban American author N.M. Sanchez’s collection Lovers in Theory (July 2020) tackles love, loss, and what it means to be a dreamer. Sanchez pulls from the studies of psychology, philosophy, and writing to produce her pieces. Insightful and full of vulnerability, the poems, prose, and quotes included in the collection offer unique perspectives using philosophies such as the soul mate theory.


From Lovers in Theory


I feel as though everything

I have fought for

has tricked me into thinking

it wanted me back.