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The Mass Media

Celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month with these books

Gavin+looks+through+poetry+books+in+the+campus+bookstore.+Photo+by+Milanya+Gordiyenko+%2F+Contributing+Photographer.
Gavin looks through poetry books in the campus bookstore. Photo by Milanya Gordiyenko / Contributing Photographer.

Hispanic Heritage Month began this September, and with it, Spanish-speaking communities around the country became excited to share their history. Besides attending events, those wanting to uplift Hispanic stories can read some of the multitude of books by Hispanic authors. Professor Carvajal Regidor of the English Department and Latin American Studies Department at UMass Boston recommended a few titles and authors for those wanting to learn more.

“Representation is helpful for younger folks to share their experiences,” Regidor said. “It’s also for those people who don’t share those experiences to see other people’s lived experiences. It benefits everyone.”

She shared Elizabeth Acevedo, who is an up and coming Dominican-American writer and poet. While Acevedo has eight books published under her name, according to her website, Professor Carvajal Regidor recommends “The Poet X” and “Clap When You Land.”

“The Poet X” tells the story of a young girl’s experience with poetry and how it helps her build relationships with the world around her. “Clap When You Land” tells the story of two girls and the death of their father. While dealing with the death of their father, the girls discover each other. 

Acevedo recently came out with her first book for adults, “Family Lore.” This book is the story of multigenerational secrets woven with magical realism to share the tale of the Marte women. These books, along with the rest of Acevedo’s works, are available at the Boston Public Library and various bookstores around the city. 

The next recommended book is “Olga Dies Dreaming” by Xochitl Gonzalez. New York based wedding planner, Olga, struggles with political turmoil, social anxieties and her Puerto Rican identity during Hurricane Maria. Gonzalez’s sophomore publication is set to release on March 5, 2024. Her book is available on her website and at library locations around Boston.

Maria Hinojosa is a Mexican-American journalist and host of Latino USA on National Public Radio. She recently released a memoir, “Once I Was You: A Memoir of Love and Hate in a Torn America” in 2020, discussing her experience growing up in Chicago with America’s ignorance around immigration issues and the country’s commoditization of vulnerable populations. This book is available on Simon & Schuster’s website or library locations around the city. 

For those interested in academic titles, “Counterstory: The Rhetoric and Writing of Critical Race Theory” by Aja Martinez and “Homegirls: Language and Cultural Practice Among Latina Youth Gangs” by Norma Mendoza-Denton are both books that Professor Regidor recommends. 

“Latinx are not a monolith,” Regidor says. “Even as we recommend particular readings, we can always engage with more. The complexities of Latinx identities should be taken into account whenever we think about consuming or creating media.”

Coordinator of the Casa Latina club on campus, Elianny also stressed the importance of Latinx representation. “It’s important to highlight not only individual countries and what that signifies and represents for us, but also remembering our roots,” she said. “When we come back to the U.S. after visiting our countries, we can either see it as a melting pot or a well-woven quilt.”

The Casa Latina club is always looking for new members. Their three cornerstones are unity, diversity and creativity. “Everyone is welcome,” Elianny said. “You don’t have to be Hispanic or Latinx. You just have to be willing to learn more about us.”

Casa Latina has a week full of events planned from Sept. 25 to Sept. 29 for Hispanic Heritage Month. They are planning cultural celebrations with The Society for Advancement of Hispanic/Chicano and Native Americans in Science. Those interested can check out their page on UMBInvolved or their Instagram @casalatinaumb. 

Elianny seconded the recommendation of “Clap When You Land” and also added “With Clipped Wings” by Alondra Bobadilla. Bobadilla is a UMass Boston student and the first Youth Poet Laureate of Boston. Her book is a collection of poems and journal entries written from age 15 to age 18. 

“It explores the concept of grief,” Bobadilla said, “not just in terms of losing someone, but also in terms of losing your identity, community, love and spirituality.” Bobadilla has been writing since she was 12 years old. She is an international relations major with a Spanish minor at UMass Boston. 

“My writing mentor was Porsha Olayiwola, the Poet Laureate of Boston,” she says. “We worked one on one and generated a lot of ideas.” Bobadilla was also inspired in part by Sylvia Plath for her confessional style of poetry. She also took indirect inspiration through indie poets online, her poet friend Assia and the Bible. 

“I want other people to know that writing is often treated like a commodity or purely performance that has to be published and has to make money, but it’s not,” she said. “I want to encourage people to get involved who don’t have that in their mind and to explore what creative writing is. Before money, it was about sharing stories and sharing things that are beautiful.”

Her book is available on her Instagram @aloxo15. Those interested can message her and she will organize a way to get the book to them.

About the Contributor
Rena Weafer, Editor-in-Chief