Latin American poetry

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Latin American poetry is the poetry of Latin America, mostly but not entirely written in Spanish or Portuguese. The unification of Indigenous and imperial cultures produced a unique and extraordinary body of literature in this region. Later with the introduction of African slaves to the new world, African traditions greatly influenced Latin American poetry.[1] Many great works of poetry were written in the colonial and pre-colonial time periods, but it was in the 1960s that the world began to notice the poetry of Latin America. Through the modernismo movement, and the international success of Latin American authors, poetry from this region became increasingly influential.

Pre-Columbian poetry[edit]

There are multiple examples of Aztec poetry written in Nahuatl. Most of these were collected during the early period of the colonization of Mexico by Spanish clergy who involved themselves in an effort to collect firsthand knowledge of all things related to the indigenous civilizations of the newly conquered territory. One of these Spanish Clergy, fray Bernardino de Sahagún, enlisted the help of young Aztecs to interview and record stories, histories, poems and other information from older Aztecs who still remembered the pre-conquered times. Much of the information that was collected by these colonial anthropologists has been lost, but researchers found originals or copies of the original research in libraries around the world. Miguel León Portilla has published multiple books on Aztec poetry and Ancient Nahuatl Poetry by Daniel Garrison can be found online at gutenberg.org.

The colonial era[edit]

Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz by Miguel Cabrera

During the period of conquest and colonization many Hispanic Americans were educated in Spain, the poets of this historical period followed the European trends in literature, including the style of romantic ballads as well as satire. The first Spanish American poets to gain recognition for their work were Spanish settlers with great influence in the New World, including Alonso de Ercilla y Zúñiga (1533–94), he wrote widely renowned poetry praising Spanish conquests.[2]

A great figure in colonial era poetry is the Mexican nun Sor Juana Ines de la Cruz, who wrote many notable works of poetry, prose, and theater in Spanish and other native languages; in her work, she took many feminist standpoints and echoed the beliefs of the Enlightenment ideals emerging in Europe.[3] Consecutively, the Counter-Reformation challenged Sor Juana's work and any poetry or literature seem as promoting concepts of liberty and freedom, after the 1802 Haitian Revolution, circulation of liberal ideas was halted by colonizers.[4] The struggle for independence of the Spanish Colonies saw a literature of defiance of authority and a sense of social injustice that is ever present in Spanish American poetics.

The 19th century[edit]

Monument of Martí in Cádiz, Spain

Poetry of the 18th and 19th centuries saw a shift away from the long-winded ballads of the past, and toward more modern and short forms, the poetry of the 19th century continued with trends of liberty and revolution. Works about the influential fighters and leaders were distributed throughout the newly liberated countries of Latin America, as well as a celebrated new focus on the wonders of American land and its indigenous people.[5] José Martí is an example of a poet-martyr who literally died fighting for the freedom of Cuba. His most famous poem, Yo soy un hombre sincero has entered into popular culture as it has been reproduced hundreds of times into the song "Guantanamera", most recently by Celia Cruz and even the Fugees. Later in the 19th century, the poetry of Latin America continued to shift away from European styles. A distinctive Spanish-American tradition began to emerge with the creation of Modernismo (not to be confused with Modernism).[6]

Modernismo: a literary movement that arose in Spanish America in the late 19th century and was subsequently transmitted to Spain. Introduced by Rubén Darío with the publication of "Azul" (1888), it is commonly accepted that it concluded with Darío's death in 1916, this new style of poetry was strongly influenced by the French symbolist and Parnassians. In rebellion against romanticism, the modernists attempted to renew poetic language and to create a poetry characterized by formal perfection, musicality, and strongly evocative imagery. Many poets embrace scenery and love of their land in their new works, including Gutiérrez Nájera and Juana Borrero.[7] Uruguayan Delmira Agustini was a feminist poet of the time period known for being sexually explicit in her literature and paving the way for future feminist authors of Latin American such as Alfonsina Storni and Gabriela Mistral.

The 20th century[edit]

After gaining popularity in non-Latin cultures due to the wide reach of modernismo, Latin American poetry continued to develop and grow with writers of the 20th century. Toward the end of the millennium, consideration of Spanish-American poetry took a multi-cultural approach. Scholars began to emphasize poetry by women, Afro/a-Hispanics, contemporary indigenous communities, and other sub-cultural groupings. Nicolás Guillén from Cuba and Luis Palés-Matos from Puerto Rico incorporate the African roots in the rhythm of their poetry, making their verses unique.[8] The influence of African heritage is acknowledged and celebrated in 20th-century Latin American literature.[9] Afro-Caribbean trends reappear in the poetry of Nuyorican poets such as Pedro Pietri, Miguel Algarin and Giannina Braschi who continue the tradition of poetry as performance art with an anti-imperialist political punch. Poetry, and creative writing in general, also tended to become more professionalized with the growth of Creative Writing programs.

After modernismo and World War I, there were many new currents which influenced Spanish American poets — Cubism, Futurism, Dadaism, Ultraism, and the most influential surrealism — Influenced heavily by Spanish surrealism, the new art movement of the avant-garde was adopted first by Latin American poets.[10] Vanguardista was seen as a self-reflective art form that threw away constraints of beauty as a common theme. Many Nobel Prize winners, including Gabriela Mistral, Pablo Neruda, and Octavio Paz, used surrealism in their work and were recognized for it. Pablo Neruda, who was described by Gabriel García Márquez as "the greatest poet of the twentieth century in any language".[11] Neruda's epic poem Canto general gained worldwide recognition as his "greatest work",[12] it took a protagonist through the wide expanse of Latin American history from pre-colonial time to the 20th century.

Contemporary poetry[edit]

Notable Latin American poets[edit]

Pre-Columbian

Colonial period

19th century

20th century

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Brotherston, Gordon (1975). Latin American poetry: origins and presence. CUP Archive. ISBN 0-521-09944-7. 
  2. ^ KIRKPATRICK, G. "Spanish America, Poetry of." In The Princeton Encyclopedia of Poetry and Poetics, edited by Roland Green, Stephen Cushman, and Clare Cavanagh. Princeton University Press, 2012
  3. ^ Merrim, Stephanie. "Sor Juana Ines de la Cruz." Encyclopædia Britannica. May 12, 2005.
  4. ^ KIRKPATRICK, G. "Spanish America, Poetry of." In The Princeton Encyclopedia of Poetry and Poetics, edited by Roland Green, Stephen Cushman, and Clare Cavanagh. Princeton University Press, 2012
  5. ^ KIRKPATRICK, G. "Spanish America, Poetry of." In The Princeton Encyclopedia of Poetry and Poetics, edited by Roland Green, Stephen Cushman, and Clare Cavanagh. Princeton University Press, 2012
  6. ^ KIRKPATRICK, G. "Spanish America, Poetry of." In The Princeton Encyclopedia of Poetry and Poetics, edited by Roland Green, Stephen Cushman, and Clare Cavanagh. Princeton University Press, 2012
  7. ^ KIRKPATRICK, G. "Spanish America, Poetry of." In The Princeton Encyclopedia of Poetry and Poetics, edited by Roland Green, Stephen Cushman, and Clare Cavanagh. Princeton University Press, 2012
  8. ^ Taylor, Ordner. "Latin American Literature." In Africa and the Americas: Culture, Politics, and History, edited by Richard M. Juang, and Noelle Anne Morrissette. ABC-CLIO, 2008. http://0-search.credoreference.com.dewey2.library.denison.edu/content/entry/abcafatrle/latin_american_literature/0?institutionId=4607
  9. ^ Taylor, Ordner. "Latin American Literature." In Africa and the Americas: Culture, Politics, and History, edited by Richard M. Juang, and Noelle Anne Morrissette. ABC-CLIO, 2008. http://0-search.credoreference.com.dewey2.library.denison.edu/content/entry/abcafatrle/latin_american_literature/0?institutionId=4607
  10. ^ Kirkpatrick, Gwen. The Dissonant Legacy of Modernismo: Lugones, Herrera y Reissig, and the Voices of Modern Spanish American Poetry. Berkeley: University of California Press, c1989 1989. http://ark.cdlib.org/ark:/13030/ft8g5008qb/
  11. ^ "Latin American poetry: origins and presence". 
  12. ^ Rodgers, Jennifer C. "Neruda, Pablo 1904-1973." In Encyclopedia of Life Writing: Autobiographical and Biographical Forms, edited by Margaretta Jolly. Routledge, 2001. http://0-search.credoreference.com.dewey2.library.denison.edu/content/entry/routlifewrite/neruda_pablo_1904_1973/0?institutionId=4607