Subversive Feminist Julia De Burgos Celebrated at Hostos
Julia de Burgosa rebellious feminist, the best known female poet in Puerto Rico and one of the most prominent women poets in the Caribbeanwas born ahead of her time.
Having shocked her family and having lost a job because of her independent ways, Burgos moved to Cuba, then to the Dominican Republic, and finally New York. The love of her life was involved in alcoholism and drug addiction, and she too, trying to mask the pain of her life, became addicted. Among her last poems was a farewell from Welfare Island. At 39 she fell dead on a New York City street.
tributes both before and after death. The keynote speaker at the conference was
Dr. Mayra Santos Febres, one of the most prominent Puerto Rican poets, who is a professor of language and literature at the University of Puerto Rico. According to Hostos Provost Daisy Cocco De Filippis, Santos Febres said that we celebrate, in Julia de Burgos, our own hybridity, our own impurity, our very own humanity capable of great things, our great vulnerability. She is still alive, not an icon on a pedestal.
Among other writers participating in the conference were Chiqui Vicioso, who, in Julia de Burgos, La Nuestra, identifies the poet as a woman belonging to all women of the islands; Lourdes Vasquez, a librarian for Latin Americana at Rutgers University and editor of an annotated bibliography of works by and about Burgos; and Ivette Lopez, Dean of Arts and Sciences at the University of Puerto Rico in Bayamon, author of a recently published and highly regarded monograph, Julia de Burgos: The Song and the Silence. Sol Miranda of the Hostos Humanities Department also wrote and performed her own tribute to the poet.
The conference, attended by nearly 300, was declared in memoriam Carmen Marin, a faculty member at Hostos and one of the conference organizers, whose untimely death occurred earlier this fall.
Provost De Filippis, who with Professor Sonia Rivera-Valdes of York College has organized each of the five conferences, lamented that this year she was not able to bring writers from Cuba. Several had agreed to participate but were not granted visas by the U.S. Among them were Cubas most eminent poet, Nancy Morejon, critic Zaida Capote, and short story writer Ana Luz Calzada.
This conference grows out of the need to come together as creative women whose work in many instances challenges established borders, geographical, linguistic, cultural and literary,
De Filippis said. From the Dominican Republic to Puerto Rico and Cuba,
the voices of women authors are being increasingly heard.
She added that the conference was an opportunity for Hostos to function as a prominent center for the dissemination of Latino culture in New York City. De Filippis is also gratified that Hostos is nurturing the on-going conversation about what it means to be a woman and creator in the islands of the Spanish Caribbean and their diaspora communities in the Northeast.