Cintio Vitier (September 25, 1921 – October 1, 2009[1]) was a Cuban poet, essayist, and novelist.[2] Upon winning the Juan Rulfo Prize, the award jury called him "one of the most important writers of his generation".[3]

Cintio Vitier
Born(1921-09-25)September 25, 1921
Key West, Florida
DiedOctober 1, 2009(2009-10-01) (aged 88)
Havana, Cuba
OccupationPoet, essayist
Notable awardsJuan Rulfo Prize, National Prize for Literature
SpouseFina García Marruz
ChildrenSergio Vitier José María Vitier

Early lifeEdit

Cintio Vitier was born to Medardo and María Cristina Bolaños Vitier on September 25, 1921, in Key West, Florida, United States, but had Cuban nationality. Vitier attended a school started by his father in Matanzas, Cuba. He said that the school's library inspired his early literary inspiration. At fifteen, Vitier moved with his family to Havana and attended La Luz, a private school, and later a public secondary school. In 1947, he graduated as an attorney from the University of Havana.[1][4]

Vitier founded the journal Luz, allowing him to publish his work. At 17, he published Poemas, a book of his poetry. Poet Juan Ramón Jiménez, who was in exile at the time, wrote the introduction and chose the poems.[1][4]


Vitier began as a writer of hermetic poetry. Other themes in his poetry included the nature of poetry, the function of memory, and the role of language in the creative process. After Fidel Castro's revolution, critics said that Vitier captured the spirit of the revolution without resorting to propaganda.[5]

Vitier helped start the Cuban poetry magazine Origenes.[2] Among his works are the books of poetry: Extrañeza de estar ("The wonder of being", 1944); Vísperas ("Vespers", 1953); Canto llano ("Plain song", 1956); Testimonios (1968), an anthology of his works from 1953 to 1968; La Fecha al Pie (1981), covering his works from 1969 to 1975; Antología Poética (1981); and Poemas de Mayo a Junio (1990).[1][5]

The most prominent of his works on Cuban poetry are Cincuenta años de poesía cubana, 1902–1952 ("Fifty years of Cuban poetry, 1902–1952"), Lo cubano en la poesía ("The Cuban element in poetry", 1958), as well as the novel Peña Pobre.[6][7]

Vitier won the National Prize for Literature (1988), the Order of José Marti awarded by the Cuban Council of State, the Juan Rulfo Prize (2002), and the medal of the Cuban Academy of Sciences. He also received the title of Official of Arts and Letters of France.

Family and later lifeEdit

Vitier's son is Sergio Vitier one of the most important composers in Latin America and Jose Maria Vitier a well-known composer.[3]

To celebrate his last birthday, a bibliographic exhibition was opened at the Cuban National Library.[1]

Vitier died on October 1, 2009, at the age of 88 in Havana. He had made an appearance the week before with his wife, poet Fina García Marruz.[1] His death was first reported by local television stations without additional details.[2] Fidel and Raul Castro sent floral wreaths dedicated to Vitier.[8]

Works in EnglishEdit

In June 2013, José Martí, Cuban Apostle: A Dialogue, was published by I.B Tauris of London. In the book, Vitier and Japanese writer Daisaku Ikeda explore the life, work and influence of José Martí (1853-1895) the Cuban independence hero, and discuss the nature of sacrifice for the sake of a great cause. Vitier and Ikeda met in Havana and in Tokyo, Japan, and their dialogue was initially serialized in Ushio, a Japanese literary magazine, between June 1999 and April 2000. The Japanese edition of their discussions was compiled and published as a book in August 2001, and Diálogo sobre José Martí, el Apóstol de Cuba, the Spanish edition, was published in Cuba in October 2001 and in the Dominican Republic in May 2002.[9]


  1. ^ a b c d e f "Cuban Intellectual Cintio Vitier Passes Away at 88". Latin American Herald Tribune. October 3, 2009. Retrieved 2009-10-03.
  2. ^ a b c "Cuban poet Cintio Vitier dead at 88". Agence France-Presse. October 2, 2009. Retrieved 2009-10-03.
  3. ^ a b "Cuban Cintio Vitier wins Juan Rulfo Prize". Guadalajara, Mexico: The Associated Press. July 8, 2002. Retrieved 2009-10-04.
  4. ^ a b Holmes, Daryl Y., Guide to Literary Masters and Their Works (subscription required), Great Neck Publishing[permanent dead link]
  5. ^ a b "Cintio Vitier (Cuban writer)". Encyclopædia Britannica. 2009. Retrieved 2009-10-03.
  6. ^ Albert James Arnold, J. Michael Dash, Julio Rodríguez-Luis (1994). A History of Literature in the Caribbean: Hispanic and francophone regions. John Benjamins Publishing Company. p. 223. ISBN 978-90-272-3442-1. Retrieved 2009-10-04.
  7. ^ "Renowned Intellectual Cintio Vitier Passes away in Havana". Cuban News Agency. Retrieved 2009-10-04.[permanent dead link]
  8. ^ "Raul, Fidel Castro Send Floral Wreaths to Cintio Vitier". Escambray. October 2, 2009. Retrieved 2009-10-27.[permanent dead link]
  9. ^ "Yong, Vitier Dialogues". October 27, 2013. Retrieved 2016-02-02.