March is Women’s History Month—a time for remembering the many contributions women have made to all areas of history: science, politics, technology, art, and literature. This last subject provides the opportunity to explore feminist authors from the Spanish-speaking world who have used poetry to promote women’s rights.
- Gabriela Mistral
As the first Latin American writer to win the Nobel Prize for Literature (1945), Gabriela Mistral’s work has been widely translated, including her first book Desolación. The theme running through much of her work is love—not just romantic love, but also parental, spiritual, and her love of the natural world. Mistral also tackled difficult subjects as well, such as the rights of women and the poor. Invite your students to learn more about this exemplary poet and humanitarian by reading Conoce a Gabriela Mistral from Dos Tomatillos.
- Julia de Burgos
Poet, civil rights activist, and advocate for an independent Puerto Rico, Julia de Burgos was born to a humble family in 1914. She was the oldest of thirteen children and faced tragedy at an early age after six of her siblings died of malnutrition. Though de Burgos started out publishing in journals and newspapers, she had two collections of poetry published during her lifetime and one after her death in 1953. Older students will enjoy reading the poem A Julia de Burgos, where the author explores the conflict between the societal expectations she felt as a woman and her authentic self.
- Rafaela Chacón Nardi
A prolific writer, Cuban author Rafaela Chacón Nardi authored more than thirty books before her death in 2001. She believed strongly in education for all and was a professor who taught at Universidad de La Habana. Her first volume of poetry, Viaje al sueño, was published in 1948 to critical acclaim, including praise from Gabriela Mistral. Chacón Nardi’s poems have been translated into more than nine different languages and widely read throughout the Hispanic world. Themes that stand out in her poetry are love, death, and country, which students can enjoy in her poem La Habana y el mar.
- Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz
A seventeenth century Mexican poet, Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz was way ahead of her time. Fascinated with books and knowledge from a young age, de la Cruz joined a nunnery to ensure she would have the resources to continue her education, as it was rare for young women of her social status to receive a formal education. During her stay at the order of San Jeronimo, she had time and space to further her study of the written word, and soon her library boasted the largest collection of books in Mexico. Centuries later, the poetry and writings she produced are still relevant and studied extensively. Now’s the time for students to get to know her better with Conoce a Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz, a poignant first-person telling of her life from Dos Tomatillos.
By Kelli Drummer-Avendano
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