Rosario Castellanos (born Rosario Castellanos Figueroa; May 25, 1925 – August 7, 1974), author, poet, and diplomat, was one of Mexico’s most influential literary voices of the twentieth century. Presented here are eight poems by Rosario Castellanos in both in their original Spanish (poemas de Rosario Castellanos) and in English translation, exploring, among other themes, her views on religion and critique of cultural constraints.
Castellanos’ work dealt with issues of culture and gender in her home country, and went on to become a significant influence on contemporary Mexican feminist theory and cultural studies.
After losing both parents in 1948, Castellanos was left to fend for herself. This tragic event along with the poem Endless Death by José Gorostiza marked the start of her career as a writer and cultural critic. Soon after, she enrolled in UNAM (National Autonomous University of Mexico) to study law, philosophy, and literature.
Julia de Burgos, born Julia Constanza Burgos Garcia (February 17, 1914 – July 6, 1953), was a Puerto Rican poet, feminist, and civil rights activist for women and African/Afro-Caribbean writers.
After Burgos was awarded a scholarship to attend University High School in 1928, her family moved to Rio Piedras, which would influence her later on to write her first work, Rio Grande de Loiza. The writings of Luis Llorens Torres, Clara Lair, Rafael Alberti, and Pablo Neruda were among some of the people who influenced her career as a young poet.
By the early 1930s, Burgos had already become a published writer in journals and newspapers and she traveled all over Puerto Rico to give book readings. Much of her work contained a collection of the intimate, land, and social struggles of those oppressed on the island as well as her work personal struggles concerning her complicated love life. Read More→
Sara Teasdale (1884 – 1933) was well known in her time for lyric poetry that celebrated the beautiful things in life, even as she herself struggled with perpetual illness and loneliness. Born in St. Louis, Missouri, she was the daughter of wealthy parents.
In her young adult years in St. Louis, she was part of a group of creative, talented young women who called themselves the Potters. They hand-printed a magazine called The Potter’s Wheel, where Sara’s early poems were first published. This led to the publication of her first book, Sonnets to Duse and Other Poems in 1907. She was twenty-three at the time of its publication. Read More→
Born in the rural mountain community of Chloe Creek in Pike County, Kentucky, Effie Waller Smith (1879–1960) was the child of former slaves Sibbie Ratliff and Frank Waller, who ensured that their children were well educated.
She attended Kentucky Normal School for Colored Persons, and from 1900 to 1902 she trained as a teacher, then taught for some years. Her verse appeared in local papers, and she published her first collection, Songs of the Months, in 1904. That same year she entered a marriage that did not last long, and she divorced her husband. Read More→
Edna St. Vincent Millay (1892 – 1950) has long been regarded as a major twentieth-century figure in the genre of poetry. Edna immersed herself in great works of literature from an early age. She read Shakespeare, Keats, Longfellow, Shelley, and Wordsworth.
At age of sixteen she compiled a dozen or so poems into a copybook and presented them to her mother as “Poetical Works of Vincent Millay.” In 1912, encouraged by her mother, Edna, then 19, sent her poem, “Renascence” to The Lyric Year, a magazine that held a yearly poetry contest and published winning entries. Though she didn’t win, the poem gained her a great deal of attention and launched her writing career.Read More→