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Get Inspired by South American Poets

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Artistic expression is greatly valued in South America. South American poetry has been interwined with the history and politics of the land from very early on. Great poems inspired, documented and celebrated revolutions across the region and are still remembered today.

And while Pablo Neruda is the most famous South American poet, there are many whose words will inspire you to travel and understand the culture of South America.

1. Gabriela Mistral

Image ©Morrissey

One of many South American poets who had a pseudonym, Mistral's real name was Lucila de María del Perpetuo Socorro Godoy Alcayaga.

From Chile, she was also an educator, diplomat, and feminist. She wrote about nature, relationships, family and sadness. She was most famous for her love poems in memory of the dead, Sonetos de la muerte (1914). Mistral was the first Latin American to win the Nobel Prize in Literature, in 1945, 12 years before her death in 1957.

 

 

2. Alfonsina Storni

Although she was born in Switzerland, many Argentines consider Alfonsi Storni one of the great poets from Argentina.

While she was known for her work focusing on the repression of women by men, she is just as famous for the work before she died. Struggling with breast cancer, she often wrote about being drawn to the sea.

She sent her last poem Voy a Dormir (I Am Going to Sleep) to the La Nacion newspaper and the day it was printed she committed suicide by jumping into the ocean in Mar del Plata but many Argentines perfer to say that walked into the sea and kept walking until she drowned.

3. César Abraham Vallejo Mendoza

Although César Abraham Vallejo Mendoza lived a relatively short life (1892 – 1938), his is considered one of the most important poets not only in Peru but around the world. 

Both in Northern Peru, he published on three books of poetry but is known as one of the great innovators of 20th century poetry and often called a revolutionary. Each book was completely different from the previous and he was always one step ahead of his colleagues. 

Nearly forty years after his death Clayton Eshleman and José Rubia Barcia won the won the National Book Award translation award for The Complete Posthumous Poetry of César Vallejo.

 

 

4. Carlos Drummond de Andrade

Considered by many to be one of the most important poets in Brazil, Carlos Drummond de Andrade's poem Canção Amiga or Friend Song is so loved that it was printed on the 50 cruzados note.

He was an important contributor to modern poetry in Brazil, and was also a journalist, civil servant and accomplished translator.

He is considered a national poet to many. 

 

5. Francisco Javier del Granado

Francisco Javier del Granado was a poet laureate and is often called a favorite son of Bolivia. He was so valued that when he died there was an official three days of mounring followed by a state funeral. His name adorns several streets, a monument, plaza and postage stamp in Bolivia.

Although he was born to a priviledged familiy he spent most of his youth in the rural countryside, which appears in the imagery and use of Quechua indigenous language in his poetry.

Often to compared to Mexico's Alfonso Reyes, he is a beloved Bolivian poet and received much recognition for his work

 

 

6. José Asunción Silva

© Cultura Banco de la República

A Colombian poet featured on the 5000 peso note, he is considered one of the leaders of Spanish-American Modernism and appeared to have lived a conflicting life.

This is evident in his most famous work, Nocturno which was published after his death. About his own sister's death, the poem broke classical Spanish versification, showing many elements that sparked Modernism.

His sister's death was not his only mistfortune, he also lost much of his work when his ship sank and he had much debt. He ended his life in 1986 with a shot to his heart.

He is buried in Bogota and his home is now a museum.

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