Texas Living

Texas Poets for Your Winter Reading List

By Tara Nieuwesteeg 2.24.20

Texas is a land of bustling cities, cattle-dotted plains, beaches, and border towns. With ever-evolving landscapes and diverse populations, it’s no surprise that this great state claims a plethora of poets too. If you’re looking to enliven your winter reading with fresh food for thought, look no further than a few of our favorite Texas poets.

From cowboy storytellers to transplants and well-known voices to up-and-comers, these wordsmiths offer insight, fresh perspectives, and plenty of lyrical prose. 

Laurie Filipelli

Laurie Filipelli, who resides in Austin, has published two books of poetry. Her 2018 volume, Girl Paper Stone, offers wisdom through lyrical snapshots of modern life.   

Deborah D.E.E.P. Mouton

Deborah D.E.E.P. Mouton is poet laureate of Houston as well as a performance poet, librettist, educator, and the director of a nonprofit. Her 2019 book of poetry, Newsworthy: Poems, tackles race and narrative through newspaper-style dispatches.

Cristin O’Keefe Aptowicz

Cristin O’Keefe Aptowicz, a New York Times bestselling author, is a nonfiction writer and poet with roots in slam poetry. In 2018, she published How to Love the Empty Air, an autobiographical exploration of, among other things, losing her mother.  

Joel Nelson

Alpine rancher Joel Nelson has said he doesn’t like the term cowboy poetry, but even so, there are few in this genre as well regarded as he is. Nelson is a 2009 NEA National Heritage Fellow, and his 2000 recording The Breaker in the Pen was nominated for a Grammy. Here’s a list of anthologies that feature his work.

Daniel García Ordaz

Daniel García Ordaz, “The Poet Mariachi,” is a Mexican American poet and teacher from McAllen. He founded the Rio Grande Valley International Poetry Festival and his books of poetry include You Know What I’m Sayin’? and Cenzontle/Mockingbird: Songs of Empowerment.

Jasminne Méndez

Houstonite Jasminne Méndez is an author, performer, and poet whose latest book, Night-Blooming Jasmin(n)e: Personal Essays and Poetry, paints a vivid portrait of what it means to live with chronic illness.

Grace Crowell

Dallasite Grace Crowell was declared poet laureate of Texas in 1935. She was a widely honored and hugely prolific writer who published multiple books and wrote hundreds of poems throughout her lifetime.

Cyrus Cassells

Cyrus Cassells, who teaches at Texas State University San Marcos, was recently awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship in the Creative Arts for Poetry. His 2018 book The Gospel According to Wild Indigo presents a lyrical exploration of history, culture, love, and loss, touching on themes of slavery and the AIDS crisis.

Sandra Cisneros

Sandra Cisneros isn’t a Texan by birth or residence, but we claim this notable novelist and poet for the nearly 29 years she spent in a periwinkle-colored house in San Antonio. Works of poetry include My Wicked Wicked Ways (1987) and her honors include fellowships (including a MacArthur Foundation Fellowship), grants, and awards.

Find more to read in these quintessential Texas books and bedtime stories.

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