Label Me Latina/o Summer 2017 Volume VII Special Issue: Black and Latin@: Conceptualizing Afro-Latinidad in Afro-Latina/o Literature and Performance

July 5, 2017 edited by Michele Shaul and Kathryn Quinn-Sánchez
Filed under: Special Issue on Afro Latino Writers 


 By Jill Toliver Richardson, Editor

This special edition, Black and Latin@: Conceptualizing Afro-Latinidad in Afro-Latina/o Literature and Performance, focuses on the work of Afro-Latino/a writers who are developing a literary and performance tradition, which delineates an Afro-Latina/o experience in the United States and defines the elements of Afro-Latina/o identity.  Afro-Latina/o writers within the United States are producing their own literary tradition that is deeply connected to the experiences of those of African heritage throughout Latin America and the Caribbean.  Together they are demanding the recognition of Afro-Latinidad throughout the African diaspora.  This issue was conceived in response to recently published texts, including The Afro-Latin@ Reader: History and Culture in the United States edited by Miriam Jiménez Román and Juan Flores 2010 (Duke UP), which examine various elements of Afro-Latinidades and provide diverse conceptualizations of Afro-Latina/o identity within and beyond the U.S.  Black and Latin@ explores the most pertinent topics in Afro-Latina/o literature and performance including memory, the body, race, nation, diaspora, transnationalism, decolonial resistance, sexuality, gender and spirituality.  The creative works featured in this issue represent the growing body of literature by Afro-Latina/o writers writing within the US.  In its entirety, Black and Latin@ reflects an expanding interest in the lived experiences of Afro-Latinx in the U.S. and beyond and signals the flourishing of an Afro-Latinx cultural movement in the 21st century.


Decolonial Resilience: Resistance and Healing in Dahlma Llanos-Figueroa’s Fiction

By Roberta Hurtado

Roberta Hurtado is an Assistant Professor of Latina/o Literature at SUNY Oswego. She completed her dissertation, Not Flesh of Empire, at the University of Texas San Antonio. Her work has appeared in journals such as Diálogo, Chicana/Latina Revista, and El Mundo Zurdo. She is currently completing her manuscript on Puerto Rican women’s literature for Palgrave Macmillan.

AfroLatina Bodies in (Trance)formation in Nelly Rosario’s Song of the Water Saints

By Omaris Z. Zamora 

Omaris Z. Zamora is an Assistant Professor of Latin American and Latino Studies at the University of Kansas in Lawrence. She received her PhD from the University of Texas at Austin. Her current research engages the theoretical formation of AfroLatina feminist epistemologies through an analysis of transnational Dominican women’s narratives.

Flipping the Script: Memory, Body and Belonging in Dahlma Llanos-Figueroa’s Daughters of the Stone

By C. Christina Lam

C. Christina Lam is Assistant Professor in the department of English at the Borough of Manhattan Community College, CUNY. Her research focuses on contemporary operations of cultural memory and recovery in multi-ethnic American women’s literature of the 20th century to the present. Her interest in the ways that marginalized writers construct subjectivities to gain visibility in the body politic extends pedagogically to the ways students come to see themselves as members of the academy. Her last article “Trauma and Testimony: Embodied Memory in Loida Maritza Pérez’s Geographies of Home” was published in the Rocky Mountain Review.

(Afro)Latinx Theatre: Articulation and Embodiment

By Olga Sanchez Saltveit

Olga Sanchez Saltveit is an actor, director, writer, and scholar-in-training. Sanchez serves as Artistic Director Emerita of Milagro, the NW’s premier Latino arts & culture organization. A founding member of Los Porteños writers’ group, her work has been published by Electrik Milkbath Press, Rio Grande Press, and Rain City Projects; she penned a column on local Latino arts and culture for El Hispanic News, Oregon’s bilingual newspaper from 2012 to 2015. ¡O Romeo!, which she conceived, co-wrote & directed, received the 2015 Drammy Award for Outstanding Achievement in Devised Work. Her bilingual play on youth prostitution, Broken Promises, was the 2016 Teatro Milagro national touring production. She recently served as dramaturge for Milagro’s Óye Oyá, a new musical based on Shakespeare’s The Tempest, set in Cuba as its relationship with the US transforms. She serves on the Steering Committee for the Latinx Theatre Commons, and is pursuing a PhD in Theatre Arts at the University of Oregon.


Poets Passage and Hija del Sol

By María Teresa “Mariposa” Fernández

María Teresa “Mariposa” Fernández is an award-winning Puerto Rican AfroLatina poet, writer and educator. Mariposa’s performance work has been featured on the critically acclaimed HBO Latino series, Habla Ya!, Americanos: Latino Life in the U.S., an HBO documentary produced by Edward James Olmos, BET and PBS. Mariposa has performed throughout the United States, Puerto Rico and abroad, most notably at the United Nations World Conference Against Racism, Durban, South Africa, the Entangled Black Americas International Conference, University of Bielefeld, Germany, Misión Puerto Rico Juan Mari Brás, La Habana, Cuba and El Instituto de Cultura Puertorrirqueña, San Juan, Puerto Rico. Mariposa holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Women, Gender & Sexuality Studies with a Concentration in English Literature and a Master’s Degree in Education from New York University. The author of Born Bronxeña: Poems on Identity, Love & Survival, her poetry has also been published in numerous anthologies including The Norton Anthology of Latino Literature, Breaking Ground: Puerto Rican Women Writers in NYC 1980 – 2012 (La Campana Press), and Manteca: Anthology of AfroLatin@ Poets (Atre Públco Press). Mariposa is a proud Bronx native and is a member of the New York City Latina Writers Group. Follow her at

Holy Week, 1625

By Javier Perez

Javier Perez is a Salvadoran-American poet, teaching artist and MA student at the University of Cape Town. He is co-founder of Swarthmore College’s spoken-word collective OASIS (Our Art Spoken in Soul); a resident poet of the Cape Town-based collective, Lingua Franca Spoken Word Movement; and co-founder of the CYPHER (Cape Youth Poetry Hub for Expression & Rhythm). Javier’s work appears in Acentos Review, Up the Staircase, New Contrast Literary Journal, and Puerto del Sol (upcoming).

Fathers & Sons and Morir Soñando

By Jasminne Mendez

Jasminne Mendez is an award-winning author, performance poet, and educator. She received her B.A. in English Literature and her M.Ed. in Curriculum and Instruction from the University of Houston. Mendez has had poetry and memoir published both nationally and internationally and her first multi-genre memoir Island of Dreams was published by Floricanto Press and was awarded Best Young Adult Latino Focused Book by the International Latino Book Awards in 2015. Recently, her personal essay El Corte received honorable mention in the Barry Lopez Creative Non-Fiction Prize in CutThroat, A Journal of the Arts. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in The Texas Review, The Acentos Review, The Crabcreek Review, Gulf Coast: A Journal of Literature and Fine Arts and others. She is a 2016 VONA Alumni, a 2016 Macondo Fellow, an upcoming 2017 Canto Mundo Fellow, and a current MFA student in creative writing in the Rainier Writer’s Workshop at Pacific Lutheran University. Her forthcoming collection of essays titled Origins will be published by Arte Publico Press in Spring 2018.

malcolm meets tite curet alonso at hemingway’s café, pittsburgh,

By Malcolm Friend

Malcolm Friend is a poet originally from the Rainier Beach neighborhood of Seattle, Washington. He has received numerous awards and fellowships from organizations including CantoMundo, VONA/Voices of Our Nation, Backbone Press, and the University of Memphis. His work has appeared or is forthcoming in publications including La Respuesta magazine, Vinyl, Word Riot, The Acentos Review, and Pretty Owl Poetry.


By Aídah Gil

Aídah Gil believes that adversity can communicate methods for deeper human understanding and solidarity, if those who experience and witness it are active listeners. Through her work she hopes to serve as an advocate for lending an ear and hand to the most harrowing rhythms of the human heart. She is a polymath who lives in New York City with her father.


A Woman of Endurance, novel excerpt

By Dahlma Llanos-Figueroa

Dahlma Llanos Figueroa was born in Puerto Rico and raised in New York City.  She is a novelist, memoirist and short story writer whose work is grounded in the Puerto Rican communities on the island and in New York City.  Her longer narratives, though universal in nature, are heavily influenced by West African mystical symbology and 20th Century Latin American magical realism while her shorter pieces are grounded in urban realism. A 2006-7 Bronx Council on the Arts Literary Fellow and three-time BRIO/ACE award winner, her novel Daughters of the Stone was shortlisted for the prestigious 2010 PEN America Bingham Award and her work has been included in Breaking Ground/Habriendo Caminos, an Anthology of Puerto Rican Women Writers in New York 1980-2012, Growing up Girl, When Last on the Mountain, Woman’s Work and Narrative Magazine, among others.  She has completed her second novel, A Woman of Endurance and is now working on her third novel in a series of five.  For a list of other publications please refer to her web site at

The Last Salsa Singer, novel excerpt  

By Ivelisse Rodriguez

Born in Arecibo, Puerto Rico, Ivelisse Rodriguez grew up in Holyoke, Massachusetts. She earned a B.A. in English from Columbia University, an M.F.A. in creative writing from Emerson College, and a Ph.D. in English-creative writing from the University of Illinois at Chicago. Her short story collection, Love War Stories, is forthcoming from The Feminist Press in summer 2018. The Belindas, a fiction chapbook, is forthcoming from Tammy in summer 2017. She has also published fiction in All about Skin: Short Fiction by Women of Color, Kweli, the Boston Review, the Bilingual Review, Aster(ix), and other publications. She is the senior fiction editor at Kweli, a Kimbilio fellow, and a VONA/Voices alum. She is currently working on the novel The Last Salsa Singer about 70s era salsa musicians in Puerto Rico. To learn more about Ivelisse visit:


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