Puerto Rican poetry

Puerto Rican poetry is the poetry written in Puerto Rico or outside the island by Puerto Ricans. Most Puerto Rican poetry is written and published in Spanish, but work by poets of the diaspora is also written and published in Spanglish and English. The literary arts emerge on the island formally in mid 1800's[1] but did not reach international recognition until the 20th century when Puerto Ricans intellectuals, artists, dramatists, and poets of the diaspora created the phenomena known as the Nuyorican Poetry Movement.[2][3]

Among the most celebrated poets who emigrated to Puerto Rico after the Spanish Civil War were Nobel laureate Juan Ramon Jiménez and his wife, the poet Zenobia Camprubí, who settled in San Juan in 1946.  Jiménez's lyrical, philosophical poems influenced major Puerto Rican-born poets Giannina Braschi and Manuel Ramos Otero, as well as playwright René Marqués.[4]

Women poetsEdit

Puerto Rican women have made great contributions to poetry in Spanish, especially in the 20th century. Mercedes Negrón Muñoz wrote under the name "Clara Lair" and published "Arras de Cristal" (1937), which describes the everyday struggles of the Puerto Rican people. However, it was Julia de Burgos who is considered by many as one of the greatest poets to be born in Puerto Rico.[5] The inspiration spurred by her nostalgia of Puerto Rico is reflected in her poem "Río Grande de Loíza". Her lyrical poems deal with the personal, the land, and the struggle of the oppressed people. Many critics assert that her poetry anticipated the work of feminist writers.[6] She writes: "I am life, strength, woman."[7] When Pablo Neruda met de Burgos in Cuba, he stated that she was one of the greatest poets of the Americas.[8] Of renown on the island (though out of print and not available in English translation as of 2020) is the poetry of Angelamaria Davila, Olga Nolla, Rosario Ferré, and Mayra Santos. Outside the island, a leading voice of the Latinx vanguard is Giannina Braschi, who writes about the vitality of Puerto Rican culture in her postmodern poetry epic Empire of Dreams.[9][10][11] Braschi's poetry has been translated into many languages and widely adapted into other art forms, including painting, sculpture, photography book, comic book and graphic novel, sculpture, experimental theater, and kinetic furniture.[12]

Nuyorican poetsEdit

Julia de Burgos was the precursor to the Nuyorican poetry movement.[13] In 1953, in the hospital months before her death, she wrote her two final poems in English, “Farewell in Welfare Island,” and “The Sun in Welfare Island,” which are forerunners to the literature of Nuyorican and U.S. Latina/o writers of the 1970s in theme, emotional intonation, and choice of language.[13] MIguel Piñero, Miguel Algarín and Pedro Pietri later cofounded the Nuyorican Poets Cafe in 1973. By the 1990s the venue was consider an epicenter of SLAM poetry movement in the United States[2][14] Among the few initial women to be included in the forum were Nuyorican poets Sandra María Esteves,[15] Giannina Braschi,[16] and Nancy Mercado.[17][2] Publications and performances of their works in English, Spanish, and Spanglish paved the way for the plethora of Latinx poets at large who perform poetry in English and Spanglish, including Dominican-American poet Elizabeth Acevedo, author of The Poet X.[18]

New York poets of Puerto Rican descent include Brooklyn-born Martin Espada who writes almost exclusively in English. A chancellor of the Academy of American Poets, Espada has translated other Puerto Rican poets into English, including Clemente Soto Vélez.[19] William Carlos Williams (1883–1963) described himself as "half-Spanish", but his mother was actually Puerto Rican and his father spoke Spanish fluently.[20] Born in Patterson, NJ, Williams was a leading poet of the Imagist movement, and the inspiration for the Beat generation of the 1950s and 60s. He was known as an experimenter, an innovator, a revolutionary figure in American poetry.[21]

African influencesEdit

Abelardo Díaz Alfaro (1916–1999)[22] and Luis Palés Matos (1989-1959)[23] who wrote Afro-Antillano lyrics and Angelamaria Davila (1944-2003) who wrote Afro-feminist verses were leading figures of Afro-Puerto Rican and Afro-Caribbean poetry. Author of "Fierce and Tender Animal", Dávila wrote explored themes of love, relationships, womanhood, and intified her black Puerto Ricanness as a defining characteristic of her writing and identity.[24] [Though known in Puerto Rican literary circles on the island, these Afro-Puerto Rican poets' works are out of print as of 2020 and have not been translated into other languages.[25]] Emerging voices of the diaspora include performance poets of Afro-Boricua descent, Noel Quiñones[26] and Vanessa Marco,[27] whose works on not yet published but performed in poetry clubs in Brooklyn and Los Angeles.[28]

Puerto Rican Poetry ClassicsEdit

The following are Puerto Rican poetry classic collections that are widely taught and available in English and other languages.

See alsoEdit

Further readingEdit

  • Acosta Cruz, M. Dream Nation: Puerto Rican Cultures and Fictions of Independence. Rutgers University Press. (2014) ISBN 978-0813565460
  • Acosta-Belén, Edna, and Ilan Stavans. The Norton Anthology of Latino Literature. (2010) ISBN 978-0393080070
  • Aldama, Frederick Luis, and Ilan Stavans. Poets, Philosophers, Lovers: On the Writings of Giannina Braschi. U Pittsburgh. (2020) ISBN 9780822946182
  • Algarin, Miguel and Bob Holman. "Aloud". Holt. (1994) ISBN 978-0805032574.
  • de Burgos, Julia. "Song of the Simple Truth: The Complete Poems of Julia de Burgos". Curbstone. (1997) ISBN 978-1880684245
  • Gonzalez, Christopher. Permissible Narratives: The Promise of Latino Literature. The Ohio State University Press. (2017) ISBN 978-0-8142-1350-6
  • Marting, Diane. "New/Nueva York in Giannina Braschi's 'Poetic Egg': Fragile Identity, Postmodernism, and Globalization." The Global South 4:1. (2010)
  • Marquez, Robert. Puerto Rican Poetry: A Selection from Aboriginal to Contemporary Times.
  • Nieves, Myrna. Breaking Ground/Abriendo Caminos: Anthology of Puerto Rican Writers in New York (2012).
  • Piedri, Pedro and Juan Flores. Selected Poems. City Lights. (2015) ISBN 978-0872866560
  • Zimmerman, Marc. "Defending Their Own in the Cold: The Cultural Turns of U.S. Puerto Ricans", University of Illinois, Chicago. (2011) ISBN 978-0252036460


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  11. ^ Cruz-Malavé, Arnaldo Manuel (2014). ""Under the Skirt of Liberty": Giannina Braschi Rewrites Empire". American Quarterly. 66 (3): 801–818. ISSN 0003-0678.
  12. ^ Lugo Bertran, Dorian (2020). "Leaping of the Page: Giannina Braschi's Intermedialities (on translations and adaptations by other artists)," Poets, Philosophers, Lovers. Aldama, Frederick Luis. Pittsburgh, Pa.: Pittsburgh. ISBN 978-0-8229-4618-2. OCLC 1143649021. Braschi’s texts have appeared in Spanish, English, Italian, French, Slovenian, Chinese, and Swedish translations.
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  17. ^ Noel, Urayoán (2014). Golding, Alan; Keller, Lynn; Morris, Adalaide (eds.). In Visible Movement: Nuyorican Poetry from the Sixties to Slam. University of Iowa Press. ISBN 978-1-60938-244-5.
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  34. ^ "Outlaw: The Collected Works of Miguel Pinero - REFORMA". www.reforma.org. Retrieved 2020-09-21.