Luz María Umpierre
|Luz María Umpierre|
Santurce, Puerto Rico
|Occupation||New-Humanist,Poet, Scholar, Edumanist Advocate|
|Notable work(s)||The Margarita Poems, For Christine, Y otras desgracias/And Other Misfortunes, En el país de las maravillas, Pour toi/For Moira, Our Only Island, I'm Still Standing: 30 Years of Poetry.|
|Notable award(s)||Michael Lynch Award for Service LGBT(MLA), Distinguished Woman of Maine, Distinguished Alumna in the Humanities (Universidad del Sagrado Corazón), Woman of the Year (Western Kentucky University).Ford Foundation Fellow. NEH Grant.|
Luz María Umpierre-Herrera (born 1947) is a Puerto Rican poet, scholar,New-humanist educator and human rights advocate who lives in the United States. She is also known as Luzma Umpierre. She is widely recognized for her open exploration of her Lesbianism, immigrant experience, and bilingualism, and for her poetic exchange with leading Nuyorican poet Sandra María Esteves.
Umpierre was born in Santurce, Puerto Rico, and grew up in a working-class neighborhood called "La veintiuna" (Stop 21) in a household with sixteen people. Her mother was a return migrant who was born in Puerto Rico but grew up in New York City; for this reason, Umpierre was exposed to English and Spanish as a child.
Umpierre studied at the Sacred Heart Academy and at the Universidad del Sagrado Corazón, graduating from both with honors. After several years of teaching at Academia Maria Reina, she came to the United States in 1974 to pursue a Ph.D. in Spanish at Bryn Mawr College in Pennsylvania, which she completed in 1978. She has described her migration as partly motivated by homophobia in Puerto Rico. After receiving her Ph.D., Umpierre went on to teach at several institutions, including Rutgers University and SUNY Brockport. She experienced discrimination at both of these. She was the first openly Lesbian Latina Scholar in Residence in Women Studies at Penn State University. Umpierre also Chaired the Department of Multicultural Studies and Folklore at Western Kentucky University where she ended segregation era courses and practices. She has done Post Doctoral work at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, the University of Kansas, and at Milano The New School for Management and Urban Policy. Umpierre was a guest speaker at The March on Washington in 1987 for Gay and Lesbian Rights and as a Reader For The Names Project(AIDS Quilt). More recently, she has focused on her work as a human rights activist and has received recognitions for her advocacy.
Umpierre has published six books of poetry and two chapbooks or "hojas poéticas". She has received significant critical attention, particularly from women,feminist and queer scholars. Her work has not received the same kind of attention in Puerto Rico, where she is not commonly included in leading anthologies or mentioned in literary histories.
Umpierre is a bilingual poet who writes in English and Spanish and sometimes mixes both languages in the same poem. In her work, she establishes a conversation with many American, Latin American, and Puerto Rican women poets and writers such as Sylvia Plath, Virginia Woolf, Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz, Julia de Burgos, and Sandra María Esteves.
Umpierre started out her poetry career with the publication of Una puertorriqueña en Penna (1979), whose title can be translated as "A Puerto Rican woman in Pennsylvania" or "A Puerto Rican woman in pain." In this book, the author offers poems that comment on the discrimination that the Puerto Rican community faced in Philadelphia. The final poem in that collection: "Mascarada la vida," signals towards the lesbian themes which she would develop further in other collections. Umpierre also comments on the prejudice against Puerto Ricans in institutions of higher education, particularly in Spanish departments that judged Puerto Rican Spanish as deficient or incorrect. She also explores these topics in her second and third books, En el país de las maravillas (Kempis puertorriqueño) (1982) and . . . Y otras desgracias/And Other Misfortunes. . . (1985), which shows a marked turn towards more bilingualism and carries openly Lesbian poems. The same book was included as an important Stonewall Era publication.
Umpierre's best-known book is The Margarita Poems (1987), where she openly discusses her lesbianism and offers highly erotic poems about lesbian love. The book also discusses issues of feminist sisterhood,Puerto Rican independence, and immigrant experience. In the 1990s she published her book For Christine (1995). In the 2000s (decade), she published two chapbooks or "hojas poéticas": Pour toi/For Moira (2005) and Our Only Island—for Nemir (2009). A volume of her complete works edited by Carmen S. Rivera and Daniel Torres was published in 2011.
Exchange with Sandra María Esteves
Umpierre is particularly well known for the poetic conversation she has engaged in with the Nuyorican poet Sandra María Esteves, which consisted of two poems by each woman. In 1985 Umpierre published a poem titled "In Response" which offered a pointed critique of the vision of Puerto Rican womanhood advanced in Esteves's poem "A la mujer borrinqueña" [To the Puerto Rican Woman] (in Yerba Buena, 1980). Esteves, in her poem, focused on a figure called Maria Christina, who is presented as a proud mother and wife that participates in her community's struggle against prejudice and oppression. Umpierre offers a Lesbian Feminist view to Esteves (and her character of Maria Christina) for her complacency with traditional social views of womanhood, and presents a poetic speaker that argues that her name is "not Maria Cristina" (spelling Cristina in Spanish, without an h) and who does not depend on men. Esteves would then go on to respond to Umpierre in her poem "So Your Name Isn't Maria Cristina," part of Bluestown Mockingbird Mambo (1990) stating that both women have been victims of the patriarchy. Umpierre subsequently commented on that poem in her own "Musée D'Orsay," published in For Christine (1995), and also wrote an essay stating that she holds a sisterly esteem towards Esteves and considers her an important fellow poet. These four poems have been published together in the fifth edition of the Heath Anthology of American Literature with an introduction by the Puerto Rican scholar Lawrence La Fountain-Stokes; the same critic also recorded a radio program for the Modern Language Association on this topic. Umpierre has criticized the reading of these poems offered by the scholar William Luis, stating her strong disagreement with his interpretation and went as far as to sue him for defamation of character.
Umpierre has published two books of literary criticism focusing on Puerto Rican literature and numerous critical articles mostly on Caribbean literature and women authors. She is one of the few people, for example, who has written on Nemir Matos' poems.She is particularly well known for advancing a "homocritical" theory of reading, which she labels as "Homocriticism," suggesting that homosexual readers can be more attuned to perceiving hidden queer meaning in a literary work. Her first article on this subject, appeared in Collages & Bricolages in 1993 under the title "On Critical Diversity" and dealt with the book Fragmentos a su imán by José Lezama Lima although it was written in the early 1980s and taught at Rutgers University in Graduate Seminars during that decade. She developed her ideas further on this topic in an article on Carmen Lugo Filippi's short story "Milagros, calle Mercurio" [Milagros, Mercury Street].
- Una puertorriqueña en Penna. [Puerto Rico]: Master Typesetting of P.R., 1979.
- En el país de las maravillas (Kempis puertorriqueño). Bloomington, Ind.: Third Woman Press, 1982.
- . . . Y otras desgracias/And Other Misfortunes. . . Bloomington, Ind.: Third Woman Press, 1985.
- The Margarita Poems. Bloomington, Ind.: Third Woman Press, 1987.
- For Christine: Poems and One Letter. Chapel Hill, N.C.: Professional Press, 1995.
- Pour toi/ For Moira. San Juan, Puerto Rico: Mariita Rivadulla and Associates, 2005.
- Our Only Island—for Nemir. San Juan, Puerto Rico: Mariita Rivadulla Professional Services, 2009.
- I'm Still Standing: Treinta años de poesía/Thirty Years of Poetry, eds. Carmen S. Rivera and Daniel Torres. Orlando, FL and Fredonia, NY: www.luzmaumpierre.com and SUNY-Fredonia, 2011.
- Ideología y novela en Puerto Rico: un estudio de la narrativa de Zeno, Laguerre y Soto. Madrid: Playor, 1983.
- Nuevas aproximaciones críticas a la literatura puertorriqueña contemporánea. Río Piedras: Editorial Cultural, 1983.
- LGBT literature
- List of famous Puerto Ricans
- List of gay, lesbian or bisexual people
- List of LGBT writers
- List of lesbian literature
- List of Puerto Rican writers
- Puerto Rican literature
- Nuyorican Movement
- Umpierre, Luz María. "Biography." Author Home Page, retrieved 1 April 2012.
- Umpierre, Luz María. "La veintiuna." In Cuentos: Stories by Latinas, eds. Alma Gómez, Cherríe Moraga, and Mariana Romo-Carmona, 88-91. New York: Kitchen Table/Women of Color Press, 1983. ISBN 0-913175-01-3
- Fortis, Marie José. "When Sappho Suffers...: Marie José Fortis Talks to Luzma Umpierre." Collages and Bricolages 7 (1993): 55-61.
- Umpierre, Luz María. "Whose Taboos?: Theirs, Yours, or Ours?" Letras femeninas, 22, no. 1-2 (Spring-Fall 1996), 263-68.
- DiFrancesco, Maria. "Poetic Dissidence: An Interview with Luz María Umpierre." MELUS 27, no. 4 (Winter 2002): 137-54.
- Rivera, Carmen Haydée. "'Language is our only homeland': An Interview with Luz María Umpierre". CENTRO: Journal of the Center for Puerto Rican Studies 20.1 (Spring 2008): 13-21.
- Umpierre, Luz María. "Professional." Author Home Page, retrieved 1 April 2012.
- La Fountain-Stokes, Lawrence. Queer Ricans: Cultures and Sexualities in the Diaspora. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2009. ISBN 0-8166-4092-0
- Martínez, Elena M. Lesbian Voices from Latin America: Breaking Ground. New York: Garland Publishing, 1996. ISBN 0-8153-1349-7
- Aparicio, Frances. "La Vida es un Spanglish Disparatero: Bilingualism in Nuyorican Poetry." In European Perspectives on Hispanic Literature in the United States, ed. Genevieve Fabre, 147-60. Houston: Arte Público Press, 1988. ISBN 0-934770-84-0
- Simounet, Alma. "Delegitimizing Oppressive Culture: The Voice of Counter-Discourse in Umpierre's Poetic Work." CENTRO: Journal of the Center for Puerto Rican Studies 20.1 (Spring 2008):22-35.
- Umpierre, Luz María. I'm Still Standing: Treinta años de poesía/Thirty Years of Poetry, eds. Carmen S. Rivera and Daniel Torres. [Orlando, FL]: Lulu.com, 2011. ISBN 978-1-257-99437-3
- Martínez, Elena M. "An Interview with Luz María Umpierre." Christopher Street October 1991: 9-10.
- Martínez, Elena M. "Luz María Umpierre: A Lesbian Puerto Rican Writer in America." Christopher Street October 1991: 7-8.
- Umpierre, Luz María. "El diálogo poético como forma de apoyo y sobrevivencia: mi relación con Sandra María Esteves." In Entre mujeres: Colaboraciones, influencias e intertextualidades en la literatura y el arte latinoamericanos, eds. María Claudia André and Patricia Rubio, 109-17. Santiago, Chile: RIL, 2005. ISBN 956-284-414-5
- La Fountain-Stokes, Lawrence. "Esteves, Sandra María and Luz María Umpierre: A Poetry Exchange." Heath Anthology of American Literature, Volume E: Contemporary Period (1945 to the Present), Fifth Ed. Paul Lauter, general ed. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 2006. 2847-49. ISBN 0-618-53301-X
- La Fountain-Stokes, Lawrence. Interview, MLA radio program (What's the Word? "New American Literatures" #203), 2005.
- Luis, William. Dance Between Two Cultures: Latino Caribbean Literature Written in the United States. Nashville: Vanderbilt University Press, 1997. ISBN 0-8265-1395-6
- Luis, William. "María C(h)ristina Speaks: Latina Identity and the Poetic Dialogue between Sandra María Esteves and Luz María Umpierre." Hispanic Journal 18, no. 1 (1997): 137-49.
- Umpierre, Luz María. "Vanderbilt University Press Warning." Author Home Page, retrieved 8 February 2009.
- Umpierre, Luz María. "Lesbian Tantalizing in Carmen Lugo Filippi's 'Milagros, calle Mercurio'" which was presented at the MLA in the early 1980s also and later published in ¿Entiendes? Queer Readings, Hispanic Writings, eds. Emilie Bergmann and Paul Julian Smith, 306-14. Durham, N.C.: Duke University Press, 1995. ISBN 0-8223-1615-3