The poems included in this comprehensive anthology run the gamut of styles and themes, but all are by Latinos writing from the mid-twentieth century to the present. Some deal with issues specific to the Hispanic experience, such as displacement, identity and language. In “Who Is Going to Tell Me?,” Puerto Rican / Dominican Sandra María Esteves chastises her Spanish ancestors “who captured my mother as slave, stripped her naked, / plowed treasures from her shores,” and wonders where she can learn about her African forefathers: “In whose library will I find their books? Tales of their lives?”
Others ponder universal concerns, such as love, family and humanity. In “Letter to Arturo,” Mexican-American poet Lucha Corpi pens a song of love to her son: “You’ve hardly left / and already I miss the light / caress of your hands / on my hair, / and your laughter and your tears, / and all your questions / about seas, / moons and deserts. / And all my poems / are tying themselves together / in my throat.”
More than 80 Latino poets are represented in this wide-ranging collection that focuses on poetry from the four largest groups in the United States: Mexican Americans, Cuban Americans, Puerto Ricans and Dominican Americans. In his introduction, scholar William Luis gives an overview of the origins of Latino literature in the United States, providing historical, political and cultural frameworks for these groups and their writings.
Included are distinguished poets such as Julia Álvarez, Gloria Anzaldúa, Jimmy Santiago Baca, Martín Espada and Pedro Pietri, as well as less well-known writers who deserve more recognition. Whether writing about timeless issues or themes specific to their community, the poets in this volume craft a multilayered look at what it means to be Latino in the United States. Looking Out, Looking In is an indispensable and welcome addition to American and Latino literatures.