Brenda Cárdenas’ TRACE featured in ‘La Treintena 2023: 30 (Something) Books of Latinx Poetry’!

Over the past year, Latina/o/x poets spanning vast aesthetics, experiences, and geographies have dazzled me with collections that reveal the complexity and beauty of our communities in all their irreducible differences. A few books by Latina/o/x poets have garnered significant mainstream attention, including Cynthia Cruz’s darkly beautiful Hotel Oblivion, winner of the National Book Critics Circle Award, and Javier Zamora’s unforgettable memoir Solito. Still, Latina/o/x poets remain frustratingly marginal to the critical conversation even in the realm of literary studies, to say nothing of our broader field or beyond it. This time around, I was excited to come across a wide range of powerful new work from Central and South American poets, further challenging and complicating the entrenched canons of Latinidad. I was also inspired by established poets such as Virgil Suárez and Jennif(f)er Tamayo opting to self-publish books and challenge literary and political conventions, and conversely by a previously self-published poet, Mercy Tullis-Bukhari, now published by the indefatigable Roberto Carlos García and his Get Fresh Books, already an essential venue for New York City Latina/o/x writing. 2022-2023 witnessed the return of foundational poets (Victor Hernández Cruz, Juan Felipe Herrera, and others), noteworthy collections by Afro-Latina voices (Tullis-Bukhari, Jasminne Mendez, Yesenia Montilla, Kimberly Reyes, etc.), and a continued flourishing of queer writing, including a volume of new and selected poems from the irreplaceable Rigoberto González, and ambitious collections by Tamayo, Christina Olivares, Lucas de Lima, Aldo Amparán, Christopher Soto, Kenneth Reveiz, and others. Below are 21 microreviews along with an additional 11 titles at the end. A special shoutout goes to the editors, publishers, and poets of the groundbreaking La piel del arrecife: Antología de poesía trans puertorriqueña, which reminds me that the work we do can imagine and build new worlds, challenging me while modeling an embodied counter-practice of creativity, criticality, and mutual care.