Nicolás Guillén Batista, 122 years of his birth

It was on July 10, 1902, 122 years ago, when Nicolás Guillén Batista was born in Camagüey, the bard, acute journalist and outstanding political activist, whose poetic production earned him the title of National Poet of Cuba.

Classified as the main representative of the negrista, Afro-Cuban or mulatto poetry, in his ample work he synthesized the turns of the popular speech of the blacks and their musical rhythms with the most cultured use of the language.

In his social and political poems he describes part of the world situation from the 30’s to the 70’s of the same century; the critique of the prevailing reality in Cuba is reflected in West Indies Ltd. In many of his works there are latent themes such as racism or the imperious need to find peace.

Guillén was also a journalist and joined the Communist Party in 1937 and during the existence of the Popular Socialist Party he was a member of its National Committee; he attended the International Congress of Writers in Spain, where his book Poemas y crónicas sobre una guerra antifascista was born, and in his travels around the continent he made portraits of personalities of Latin American culture,

Tireless creator and cultivator of the word, in 1947 he gathered his poetic work published in the volume El son entero; other of his books are Cantos para soldados y sones para turistas and Elegías antillanas, where the poems El apellido and Elegía a Jesús Menéndez can be found, the last one in memory of the general secretary of the Federación Nacional de Trabajadores Azucareros, murdered in the city of Manzanillo, on January 22, 1948.

His poetic legacy includes more than two dozen books, published mainly during the second half of the 20th century, translated into many languages and recognized with praising comments and studies by prominent literary personalities for reflecting the fighting spirit of human beings and their hope of conquering a better society.

Due to his active political militancy, he had to escape from Fulgencio Batista’s dictatorship in 1954 and settle out of Cuba, and as a result of more than five years of work in exile, his poetry book La paloma de vuelo popular was born, a nostalgic text that predicted the announcement of great changes for the Cuban nation and whose aesthetic and ideological values reveal Guillén’s social and revolutionary projection.

A little known aspect of Nicolás Guillen’s poetry are his humorous décimas; he also wrote for children and until his death in Havana in 1989, he was the president of the Union of Writers and Artists of Cuba (UNEAC), a vital institution for the development of Cuban culture, founded on August 22, 1961.

He was awarded the José Martí Order in 1981 for the quality, variety and depth of his work, as well as his sense of ethics and his social and political commitment, Nicolás Guillen Batista is considered Cuba’s National Poet.

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Acerca de Martha Martínez Duliet

Licenciada en Educación en la especialidad de Historia y Ciencias Sociales en la Universidad de Camagüey. Labora como periodista en Radio Florida desde el año 1993 desempeñándose actualmente como editora del sitio digital de esta emisora. Contactos: Twitter: @MDuliet Facebook: Martha Martínez Duliet Blog personal:

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