Aída Cartagena Portalatín

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Aída Cartagena Portalatín
Born Aída Cartagena Portalatín
June 18, 1918
Moca, Espaillat, Dominican Republic
Died June 3, 1994(1994-06-03) (aged 75)
Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic
Occupation Poet and Essayist

Aída Cartagena Portalatín (June 18, 1918 — June 3, 1994) was a Dominican prolific poet, fiction writer and essayist. She wrote in Spanish. Some of her work has been translated into English and other languages.

She was born in Moca, Dominican Republic, where she completed her elementary and secondary education. She is the daughter of Felipe Cartagena Estrella and Olimpia Portalatín. She later moved to the capital of the Dominican Republic where she earned her Doctorate in Humanities at the Universidad Autónoma de Santo Domingo. She did post-graduate studies in Paris.

In her early career, Cartagena Portalatín was part of the "poesía sorprendida" (surprised poetry) movement in the Dominican Republic.

Cartagena Portalatín stands out as a universal voice that nevertheless speaks from a particular location in the Caribbean that is often overlooked by the world's educated peoples (as evidenced in the lack of inclusion of her work in libraries, reference works, and online sources of literature). Her work was philosophical as well as historical, reflecting a broad worldview, that encompassed themes such as feminism, colonialism, imperialism, as well as current events contemporary to her times.

One of her most famous poems is "Una mujer está sola," which starts with the lines "Una mujer está sola. Sola con su estatura. Con los ojos abiertos. Con los brazos abiertos. Con el corazón abierto como un silencio ancho." ("A woman is alone. Alone with her stature. With her eyes open. With her arms open. With her heart open like a wide silence.")

In another poem, she refers to the racial politics of the United States through a consideration of a Dominican mother: "de su vientre nacieron siete hijos/ que serían en Dallas, Memphis o Birmingham un problema racial / (ni blancos ni negros)" ("from her womb were born seven children / who would in Dallas, Memphis or Birmingham be a racial problem / (neither white nor black)") (p. 207, Obra poética completa: 1955-1984)

Cartagena Portalatín was a finalist in the prestigious Premio Seix Barral international literary award competition in Barcelona for her novel Escalera para Electra (1969).

She published another famous poem, Yania Tierra in 1981. Poema Documento (documentary poem), is the subtitle of this book-length poem, which traces the history of the Dominican Republic through the point of view of Yania Tierra, a female personification of the nation.

She also taught at the Universidad Autónoma de Santo Domingo, in the fields of art history, colonial art, and history of civilization.

Works by Aída Cartagena Portalatín[edit]

  • Vispera del Sueño: Poemas para un Atardecer, La Poesia Sorprendida (Ciudad Trujillo, Dominican Republic), 1944.
  • Llamale Verde (poems), La Poesia Sorprendida, 1945.
  • Mi Mundo el Mar (poems), La Isla Necesaria (Ciudad Trujillo), 1955.
  • Una Mujer Está Sola (poems), La Isla Necesaria, 1955.
  • La Voz Desatada (poems), Brigadas Dominicanas (Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic), 1962.
  • La Tierra Está Escrita (poems), Brigadas Dominicanas, 1967.
  • Escalera para Electra (novel), 1969. (2nd edition, Montesinos (Santo Domingo), 1980.)
  • Narradores dominicanos: antología. Monte Ávila Editores (Caracas), 1969.
  • Dos técnicas cerámicas indonatillanas, (Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic), 1971 or 1972.
  • Danza, música e instrumentos de los indios de la Española, Museo de Antopologia, Universidad Autónoma de Santo Domingo, Facultad de Humanidades (Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic), 1974.
  • Tablero: doce cuentos de lo popular a lo culto (stories), Taller (Santo Domingo), 1978.
  • Yania Tierra, Montesinos, 1981.
  • En la Casa del Tiempo (poems), Montesinos, 1984.
  • La Tarde en Que Murio Estefania, Montesinos, 1984.
  • Las Culturas Africanas: Rebeldes con Causa, Montesinos, 1986.
  • La mujer en la literatura: homenaje a Aida Cartagena Portalatín. Editora Universal UASD (Santo Domingo), 1986.
  • From Desolation to Compromise: A Bilingual Anthology of the Poetry of Aida Cartagena Portalatin, Montesinos, 1988.
  • Vispera del sueño al mundo. Feria del Libro José Martí (Santo domingo), 1995.
  • Aida Cartagena Portalatin: selección poética, Consejo Nacional de Educación (Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic), 2000.
  • Obra poética completa: 1955-1984, Biblioteca Nacional de la República Dominicana (Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic), 2000.

Contributor to periodicals, including La Poesia Sorprendida.*

Further reading[edit]

  • Cocco de Filippis, Daisy."Aida Cartagena Portalatín: A Literary Life," in Moving Beyond Boundaries: Black Woman’s Diaspora,V2 Carole Boyce Davis,editor. London: Pluto Publications, 1995.
  • Cocco de Filippis, Daisy. (editor and co-translator) From Desolation to Compromise: The Poetry of Aída Cartagena Portalatín. Santo Domingo: Ediciones Montesinos No. 10, 1988.
  • Poem "Una Mujer está Sola"

References[edit]