Julia de Burgos

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Julia de Burgos
Julia de Burgos.jpg
Julia de Burgos
Born Julia Constancia Burgos García
February 17, 1914
Carolina, Puerto Rico
Died July 6, 1953
Spanish Harlem, Manhattan , New York City, New York, United States
Occupation poet, activist
Nationality Puerto Rican  Puerto Rico
Literary movement Puerto Rican Independence
Notable works El Rio Grande de Loiza;

Julia de Burgos (February 17, 1914 – July 6, 1953) was a poet from Puerto Rico.[1][2][2][3][4][5] As an advocate of Puerto Rican independence, she served as Secretary General of the Daughters of Freedom, the women's branch of the Puerto Rican Nationalist Party.[6] She was also an civil rights activist for women and African/Afro-Caribbean writers.

Early years[edit]

Julia de Burgos (birth name: Julia Constanza de Burgos García[note 1]) was born to Francisco Burgos Hans (a farmer) and Paula García de Burgos. Although her father worked for the National Guard and farmed near the town of Carolina, Puerto Rico, where she was born, the family later moved to the barrio of Santa Cruz of the same city. She was the oldest of thirteen children, and six of her youngest siblings died of malnutrition. Her first work was Río Grande de Loíza. According to Burgos:[6]

"My childhood was all a poem in the river, and a river in the poem of my first dreams."

After she graduated from Muñoz Rivera Primary School in 1928, her family moved to Rio Piedras where she was awarded a scholarship to attend University High School.[6] In 1931, she enrolled in University of Puerto Rico, Rio Piedras Campus to become a teacher.

In 1933, Burgos graduated at the age of 19 from the University of Puerto Rico with a degree in teaching. She became a teacher and worked at Feijoo Elementary School in Barrio Cedro Arriba of Naranjito, Puerto Rico. She also worked as writer for a children's program on public radio, but was reportedly fired for her political beliefs.[6] Among her early influences were Luis Lloréns Torres, Clara Lair, Rafael Alberti and Pablo Neruda.

Nationalist[edit]

In 1934, she married Ruben Rodrigues Beauchamp and ended her teaching career. In 1936, she was a member of the Puerto Rican Nationalist Party (Partido Nacionalista de Puerto Rico) and elected Secretary General of the Daughters of Freedom, a non-partisan women's organization which was the women's branch of the Nationalist Party.[6] The Puerto Rican Nationalist Party was the independence party headed by Pedro Albizu Campos, a Puerto Rican Nationalist. She divorced her husband in 1937.

Literature[edit]

By the early 1930s, Burgos was already a published writer in journals and newspapers. She published three books which contained a collection of her poems. For her first two books, she traveled around the island promoting herself by giving book readings. Her third book was published posthumously in 1954. Burgos's lyrical poems are a combination of the intimate, the land and the social struggle of the oppressed. Many critics assert that her poetry anticipated the work of feminist writers and poets as well as that of other Hispanic authors.[7] In one of her poems, she writes: “I am life, strength, woman.”[8] Burgos received awards and recognition for her work and was celebrated by poets including Pablo Neruda, who stated that her calling was to be the greatest poet of the Americas.[9]

External audio
Actress Marilyn Pupo recite Julia de Burgos in "Marilyn Pupo Declama a Julia de Burgos" on YouTube

Among Julia de Burgos' works are:

  • El Rio Grande de Loiza
  • Poema para Mi Muerte (My Death Poem),
  • Yo Misma Fui Mi Ruta (I Was My Own Path),
  • Alba de Mi Silencio (Dawn of My Silence),
  • Alta Mar y Gaviota

Later years[edit]

"Río Grande de Loíza!... Great river. Great flood of tears... save those greater that come from the eyes of my soul for my enslaved people" Julia de Burgos, "El Rio Grande de Loiza"

Later in life, Burgos became romantically involved with Dr. Juan Isidro Jimenes Grullón, a Dominican physician. According to Grullón, many of her poems during that time were inspired by the love that she felt for him.[6] In 1939, Burgos and Jimenes Grullón traveled first to Cuba where she attended the University of Havana and then later to New York where she worked as a journalist for Pueblos Hispanos, a progressive newspaper.

Shortly after their arrival in Cuba, Burgos' relationship with Jimenes Grullón began to show tension. After trying to save her relationship, she instead left and returned once again to New York, however this time alone, where she took menial jobs to support herself. In 1943, she married Armando Marín, a musician from Vieques. In 1947, the marriage also ended in divorce, lapsing Burgos into further depression and alcoholism.

In February 1953, she wrote one of her last poems, "Farewell in Welfare Island".[10] It was written during her last hospitalization and is believed[by whom?] to be the only poem she wrote in English. In the poem she foreshadows her death and reveals an ever darker concept of life[neutrality is disputed]:

"Farewell in Welfare Island"
By:Julia de Burgos

It has to be from here,
right this instance,
my cry into the world.
My cry that is no more mine,
but hers and his forever,
the comrades of my silence,

the phantoms of my grave.[11]

On June 28, 1953, Julia de Burgos left the home of a relative in Brooklyn, where she had been residing. She disappeared without leaving a clue as to where she went[citation needed].

It was later discovered that on July 6, 1953, she collapsed on a sidewalk in the Spanish Harlem section of Manhattan, and later died of pneumonia at a hospital in Harlem at the age of 39. Since no one claimed her body and she had no identification on her, the city gave her a pauper's burial on Hart Island, the city's only potter's field[citation needed].

Eventually, some of her friends and relatives were able to trace her, find her grave, and claim her body. A committee was organized in Puerto Rico, presided over by Dr. Margot Arce de Vázquez, to have her remains transferred to the island. Burgos' remains arrived on September 6, 1953 and funeral services for her were held at the Puerto Rican Atheneum. She was given a hero's burial at the Municipal Cemetery of Carolina. A monument was later built at her burial site by the City of Carolina[citation needed].

Honors[edit]

On February 19, 1987, the Spanish Department of the University of Puerto Rico posthumously honored Julia de Burgos by granting her a doctorate in Human Arts and Letters. The proclamation was presented to her niece, Maria Consuelo Seaz Burgos[citation needed].

Cities that have honored Julia de Burgos include:

  • Carolina, Puerto Rico
    • Escuela Julia de Burgos[12]
  • New York City, New York
    • Julia de Burgos Cultural Center[13]
    • Julia de Burgos Way (corner of East 106th Street and Lexington Avenue)[14]
    • Julia de Burgos Middle School (M.S. 99)
  • Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
    • Julia de Burgos Elementary School[15]
    • Julia de Burgos Magnet Middle School[16]
  • San Juan, Puerto Rico
    • Casa Protegida Julia de Burgos (domestic violence shelter)[17]
  • Willimantic, Connecticut
    • Julia de Burgos Pocket Park
Julia de Burgos Park on the corner of Jackson Street and Terry Avenue in Willimantic

The Puerto Rican sculptor Tomás Batista sculpted a bust of Julia in the Julia de Burgos Park in Carolina. Isabel Cuchí Coll published a book about Burgos titled Dos Petisas de América: Clara Lair y Julia de Burgos. Puerto Rican poet Giannina Braschi, who was born the year of Burgos' death, pays homage to her poetry and legend in a scene of the Spanglish novel Yo-Yo Boing!

At Yale University, the Latino Cultural Center is named in her honor, La Casa Cultural Julia de Burgos

A documentary about the life of Julia de Burgos was made in 2002 titled "Julia, Toda en mi..." (Julia, All in me...) directed and produced by Ivonne Belen. Another biopic about her life, "Vida y poesía de Julia de Burgos," was filmed and released in Puerto Rico in 1978.

In New York City the Julia de Burgos Cultural Center, on 106th street and Lexington Avenue, is named after her.[13]

On September 14, 2010, in a ceremony held in San Juan, the United States Postal Service honored Burgos's life and literary work with the issuance of a first class postage stamp, the 26th release in the postal system's Literary Arts series. The stamp's portrait was created by Toronto-based artist Jody Hewgill.[14][18]

In 2011, de Burgos was inducted into the New York Writers Hall of Fame.

There is a plaque, located at the monument to the Jayuya Uprising participants in Mayagüez, Puerto Rico, honoring the women of the Puerto Rican Nationalist Party. de Burgos's name is on the sixth line of the third plate.

Plaque honoring the women of the Puerto Rican Nationalist Party


Publications[edit]

Biographical/Documentary films[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^
    This name uses Spanish naming customs; the first or paternal family name is de Burgos and the second or maternal family name is García.

See also[edit]

Female members of the Puerto Rican Nationalist Party

References[edit]

  1. ^ JS Theatre
  2. ^ a b Julia de Burgos Books & Crafts
  3. ^ IMdB
  4. ^ Bio.
  5. ^ Latin America Today
  6. ^ a b c d e f Song of the Simple Truth: The Complete Poems of Julia de Burgos. Curbstone Books; 1st edition (January 1997). ISBN 1-880684-24-1. 
  7. ^ Hispanic Heritage
  8. ^ "Julia de Burgos, Celebrated Poet, Honored on U.S. Stamp". 
  9. ^ Truth & lies: an anthology of poems. Patrice Vecchione. Macmillan, 2001
  10. ^ Julia de Burgos. Gale
  11. ^ Julia de Burgos. Literatura.es
  12. ^ Escuela Julia de Burgos from www.de.gobierno.pr
  13. ^ a b Julia de Burgos Cultural Center from www.juliadeburgos.org
  14. ^ a b Poet Julia de Burgos gets stamp of approval from the New York Daily News 15 September 2010
  15. ^ Julia de Burgos Elementary School from www.phila.k12.pa.us
  16. ^ Deburgos Bilingual Magnet Middle School from www.greatschools.org
  17. ^ Casa Protegida Julia de Burgos from www.casajulia.org
  18. ^ Postal News: 2010 Stamp Program Unveiled from www.usps.com 30 December 2010
  19. ^ a b c d El Boricua

External links[edit]