{ subscribe_url:'//blogs.loc.gov/share/sites/library-of-congress-blogs/international-collections.php' }

A Celebration of Women in Poetry

(The Following is a post by Catalina Gómez, Reference Librarian, Hispanic Division.)

As Women’s History Month comes to a close and National Poetry Month approaches, this moment presents itself as the perfect opportunity to honor the work of women in poetry. For this, we have chosen to highlight three of the most beloved women poets of the Luso-Hispanic world: Gabriela Mistral from Chile, Ida Vitale from Uruguay, and Sophia de Mello Breyner Andresen from Portugal. We celebrate the lives and work of these three towering figures of the 20th century, but more importantly, we honor their voices (along with those of women poets everywhere) by sharing the recordings that each of them did for the Archive of Hispanic Literature on Tape (AHLOT) here in the Library of Congress. The AHLOT is a collection of audio recordings curated by the Library’s Hispanic Division since 1943, and featuring poets and prose writers from Latin America, Spain, and Portugal, and the Hispanic community of the United States reading from their works.

Gabriela Mistral (1889-1957)

Chilean poet Gabriela Mistral (Prints & Photographs Division, Library of Congress).

Gabriela Mistral recorded for the Library’s Archive in 1950  in the Thomas Jefferson Building’s Recording Laboratory. Her birth name was Lucila Godoy Alcayaga and she was born in Vicuña, Chile, in 1889. Winner of the Nobel Prize in Literature (1945), she is considered one of Latin America’s most prominent figures in poetry.  She authored throughout her life twelve books of poetry, including “Desolación” (Desolation) (1922), “Ternura” (Tenderness) (1924), and “Tala” (Felling) (1938). Her poetry dealt with themes such as nature, love, motherhood, childhood, and travel, and stylistically Mistral’s work attempted to merge Western and Native American influences. In addition to her work as a poet, she was a fervent educator and a humanist. She worked as a teacher and principal in rural Chile, and was dedicated to girls’ education.

In her recording, Gabriela Mistral reads from her book “Ternura” (Tenderness) (1924).

Ida Vitale (1923-)

Uruguayan poet Ida Vitale (courtesy of the poet’s family).

Ida Vitale recorded for the Library’s Archive in 1986. Vitale is one of the most widely recognized poets of Uruguay, a country known for producing the greatest number of women poets in Latin America. Born in Montevideo in 1923, she is the author of more than a dozen poetry collections, including “La luz de esta memoria” (The Light of this Remembrance) (1949), “Palabra dada” (Expectant Words) (1953), “Cada uno en su noche” (Each in His Own Night) (1960), “Jardín de sílice” (Garden of Silica) (1978), and “Reducción del infinito” (Reduction of the Infinite) (2002). Vitale, together with other noteworthy authors like Mario Benedetti, Juan Carlos Onetti, and Idea Vilariño, was part of the literary movement Generación del 45, which longed for a revitalization of modernist poetics. She has been the recipient of literary prizes such as the Octavio Paz Prize for Poetry and the Reina Sofia Prize for Ibero-American Poetry, among other honors.

In her recording, Ida Vitale reads selections from some of her books of poems, including “Cada uno en su noche” (Each In His Own Night) (1960), “Jardín de sílice” (Garden of Silica) (1980), and “Sueños de la constancia” (Constancy’s Dreams) (1988).

Sophia de Mello Breyner Andresen (1919-2004)

Portuguese poet Sophia de Mello Breyner Andresen (courtesy of the poet’s family).

Finally, we have the Portuguese poet Sophia de Mello Breyner Andresen, whose recording took place in 1985, also here  at the Library of Congress. Born in the city of Oporto in 1919, Breyner Andresen is the author of thirteen books of poetry, including “O nome das coisas” (The Name of Things) (1977), “Geografia” (Geography) (1967), and “Ilhas” (Islands) (1989). “Poetry,” Sophia said “is my understanding of the universe, my way of relating to things, my participation in reality, my encounter with voices and images.” The sea and marine life in general are constant elements in her poems. Aside from her poetry, Breyner Andresen wrote many collections of short stories, essays, plays, and children’s books. She was awarded the Camões Prize, which is the most prestigious award for poetry in Portugal, along with many other honors. In addition to her literary contributions, she was elected Member of Parliament by the Socialist Party of Portugal. She died in 2004 and was awarded National Pantheon Honors posthumously in 2014.

In her recording, Sophia de Mello Breyner Andresen reads selections from some of her books of poems, including “Dia do mar” (1947) and “Coral” (1950).

We hope that even if you aren’t a Spanish or Portuguese speaker, you’ll enjoy listening to the voices of these three most cherished poets. And don’t hesitate to let us know who your favorite women poets are!

Click here to listen to more recordings from the Archive of Hispanic Literature on Tape. The material featured in this online presentation represents a sample of the entire Archive. This site will provide access to additional items from the collection on a yearly basis.

Africana Historic Postcard Collection

(The following is a post by Angel D. Batiste, Area Specialist, African and Middle Eastern Division.) After European powers met at the event called the Berlin Conference in 1884-85 to negotiate and formalize claims to African territory, nations in Africa faced European imperialist conquest and eventual colonization. By 1900 most of the entire African continent, […]

The Legacy of Writer José Donoso

(The following is a post by Georgette Dorn, Chief of the Hispanic Division.) On Dec. 7, 2016, the Hispanic Division honors the great Chilean writer José Donoso on the 20th anniversary of his death. I recorded Donoso on three different occasions for our Archive of Hispanic Literature on Tape — twice at the Library of […]

333: A Film on the Manuscripts of Timbuktu

(The following is a post by Marieta Harper, Area Specialist, African Section, African and Middle Eastern Division.) For almost a millennium, one of the world’s oldest manuscript collections has survived despite the vagaries of the weather, inadequate storage, termites, fire, theft, and wars. These are the manuscript collections of Timbuktu (a city on the edge […]

Celebrating Poetic Freedom: Rubén Dario

(The following is a post by Juan Manuel Pérez, Reference Specialist, Hispanic Division.) Through 2016 Nicaragua and the Spanish-speaking world have been celebrating the 100th anniversary of the death of one of Latin America’s greatest poets, Félix Rubén García Sarmiento, universally known as Rubén Darío (1867-1916). His poetry ushered in a literary movement known as […]

Listening to Literature: Expanding Online Access to the Archive of Hispanic Literature on Tape

(The Following is a post by Catalina Gómez, Reference Librarian, Hispanic Division.)  As we settle into late summer, the Hispanic Division continues the exciting work of uploading recordings from the Archive of Hispanic Literature on Tape (AHLOT) online. Listen to one of our recent additions! Last September, the AHLOT Online Feature was launched, making a […]

Remembering Gregory Rabassa, 1922-2016

(The following is a post by Georgette Dorn, Chief, Hispanic Division.) The world lost one of the great, if not the greatest, translator of Spanish and Portuguese literature into English and thus into the English-speaking world, when Gregory Rabassa passed away at the age of 94 on June 13, 2016 in Branford, CT. Nobel laureate […]

Bastille Day, July 14th

(The following is a post by Erika Spencer, Reference Specialist for France, European Division.) Many Americans view the month of July as a time to celebrate America’s Declaration of Independence and subsequent victory over the British. But July also marks the French national holiday, known as Bastille Day, which is celebrated on July 14. Not […]

Waymarks of Benefits in the Library of Congress Collections

(The following is a post by Muhannad Salhi, Arab World Specialist, African and Middle Eastern Division.) While famed for its splendid illuminated illustrations of Islamic holy sites including Mecca, Medina, the Ka’bah and the Haram al-Sharif (Noble Sanctuary), the uniqueness and significance of Muhammad ibn Sulayman al-Jazuli’s “Dalā‘il al-Khayrāt wa-Shawāriq al-Anwār fī Dhikr al-Ṣalāt ‘alà […]

The Library of Congress to Celebrate the Works of Idea Vilariño and Álvaro Mutis

(The following is a post by Catalina Gómez, Reference Librarian, Hispanic Division.) This month the Hispanic Division of the Library of Congress is happy to present, together with the Library’s Poetry and Literature Center, two literary programs that will bring to light the work of two of the most groundbreaking poets of the 20th century […]