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Famous Hispanic Women Poets


From Chile to New York City, the world is alive with the musical poetry of Hispanic women poets. Whether you read their work in Spanish or in translation, you’ll come away with a deep sense of each woman’s family, culture and tradition. From the magical realism of Isabel Allende to the social critiques of Sandra Cisneros, this is a collection of writing that teems with vivacity, heart and unanswered questions about a woman’s place in the world.

Julia de Burgos (1914-1953)

A native of Puerto Rico, Julia de Burgos first made her living as a teacher while publishing her poems. For a time, she became involved in the political party agitating for Puerto Rican independence. She spent time in Havana and eventually moved to New York City, where she lived until she died in relative obscurity. Today, she is widely considered the finest poet Puerto Rico has produced. Her first poem, “El Rio Grande de Loiza,” was published in Puerto Rico at the age of 19. Her books of poetry include "Poemas Exactos de mi Misma" (1937), "Poema en Veinte Surcos" (1938) and "Cancion de la Verdad Sencilla" (1939).

Isabel Allende (1942- )

A Chilean native, Isabel Allende began her writing career as a journalist first in Chile and later in Venezuela. Famous for her novels and short stories, she has also written stage plays in Chile and taught literature at universities in Virginia, New Jersey and California. In 2006, Allende was a flag bearer representing Latin America at the Torino Winter Olympics. She has received dozens of awards for her fiction; they include the Brandeis University Major Book Collection award (1993) and the American Library Association’s Books to Remember Award (1996). In 2009 the London Times nominated "The House of the Spirits" as one of the Best 60 Books in the Past 60 Years. Major works include "The House of the Spirits" (1982), "Of Love and Shadows" (1984), "Daughter of Fortune" (1999), "Zorro" (2005) and "The Island Beneath the Sea" (2009). Her poetry can be found in "Aphrodite: A Memoir of the Senses" (1999).

Julia Alvarez (1950- )

Born in New York City and raised in the Dominican Republic, Julia Alvarez writes fiction, including children’s and young adult fiction; non-fiction; and poetry. The culture of the Dominican Republic was largely oral, she has said, and learning English as a second language forced her to pay attention to words and gave her the skills to write down the stories that lived in her imagination. She built a career by teaching and publishing in small magazines until her first novel, "How the Garcia Girls Lost Their Accents," was published. That book was a 1991 "New York Times" Book Review Notable Book and won the 1991 Pen Oakland/Josephine Miles Award. Her books of poems include "The Woman I Kept to Myself" (2004), "Seven Trees" (1998), "Homecoming: New and Collected Poems" (1996) and "The Other Side" (1995).

Sandra Cisneros (1954- )

Born in Chicago, Sandra Cisneros earned degrees from Loyola University of Chicago and the University of Iowa. Before writing full-time, she worked as a teacher, counselor, recruiter and administrator. The publication of her book "The House on Mango Street" (1984) established her as a major Hispanic writer, and it has sold more than 2 million copies. In addition to writing, Cisneros founded the Macondo Foundation and the Alfredo Cisneros Del Moral Foundation, both focused on fostering creativity and the arts. Other notable works include "Caramelo" (2002) and "Woman Hollering Creek and Other Stories" (1991). Her books of poetry include "Bad Boys" (1980), "My Wicked Ways" (1987) and "Loose Woman" (1994).

About the Author

Jenni Wiltz's fiction has been published in "The Portland Review," "Sacramento News & Review" and "The Copperfield Review." She has a bachelor's degree in English and history from the University of California, Davis and is working on a master's degree in English at Sacramento State. She has worked as a grant coordinator, senior editor and advertising copywriter and has been a professional writer since 2003.

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