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Becoming Julia de Burgos

Becoming Julia de Burgos: The Making of a Puerto Rican Icon

Copyright Date: 2014
Pages: 232
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  • Book Info
    Becoming Julia de Burgos
    Book Description:

    In the first book-length study written in English, Vanessa Perez-Rosario examines poet and political activist Julia de Burgos's development as a writer, her experience of migration, and her legacy in New York City. Perez-Rosario situates de Burgos as part of a transitional generation that helps to bridge the historical divide between Puerto Rican nationalist writers of the 1930s and the Nuyorican writers of the 1970s. Focusing on the poet's contributions to New York Latino/a literary and visual culture, she moves beyond the tragedy-centered narratives of de Burgos's life to examine her place within a nuanced historical understanding of Puerto Rico's peoples and culture. Perez-Rosario unravels the cultural and political dynamics at work when contemporary Latina/o writers and artists in New York revise, reinvent, and riff off of Julia de Burgos as they imagine new possibilities for themselves and their communities.

    eISBN: 978-0-252-09692-1
    Subjects: Language & Literature, History

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-x)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. xi-xii)
  3. List of Illustrations
    (pp. xiii-xiv)
    (pp. xv-xviii)
    (pp. 1-14)

    In the early morning hours of 5 July 1953, two New York City police officers spotted a figure on the ground near the corner of Fifth Avenue and 106th Street in East Harlem. As they approached, they saw the body of a woman with bronzecolored skin. Once a towering woman at five feet, ten inches, she now lay in the street, unconscious. They rushed her to Harlem Hospital, where she died shortly thereafter. The woman carried no handbag and had no identification on her. No one came to the morgue to claim her body. No missing person’s case fit her...

  6. 1 Writing the Nation: Feminism, Anti-Imperialism, and the Generación del Treinta
    (pp. 15-45)

    In December 1938, at the age of twenty-four, Julia de Burgos self-published her first collection of poetry and traveled around Puerto Rico selling copies. She was raising money to help cover the cost of her mother’s cancer treatments. This story, like many others about her, circulated for decades and contributed to the myths shrouding her life. Traditionally read as a story of daughterly devotion, it can also be seen as an example of Burgos’s ambition, self-promotion, and determination to establish herself as a writer. Burgos’s praxis and writing during the early part of her career reveal her savvy ability to...

  7. 2 Nadie es profeta en su tierra: Exile, Migration, and Hemispheric Identity
    (pp. 46-68)

    When Julia de Burgos embarked for New York on 13 January 1940, she was twenty-five. She had already written three collections of poetry and published two. She had been married and divorced. Stigmatized by Puerto Rico’s conservative culture because of her divorce, Burgos left, with no plans to return. “I want to be universal,” she exclaimed in a letter to her sister, Consuelo, shortly after her arrival in New York. Burgos’s decision to leave the island and spend the remainder of her life abroad generated much criticism, romantic speculation, and gossip among those who believed her departure from the island...

  8. 3 Más allá del mar: Journalism as Puerto Rican Cultural and Political Transnational Practice
    (pp. 69-93)

    Julia de Burgos is part of the cultural fabric of Puerto Ricans both on the island and in New York. She is recognized primarily for her poetry and for what her short life has come to symbolize for so many people. Yet her writing for the Spanish-language newspaperPueblos Hispanosin New York during the 1940s has received little critical attention. Burgos participated actively in the cultural, political, and social life of the Puerto Ricancoloniain New York City, where she lived mostly in East Harlem’s El Barrio. This chapter contributes to the understanding of how New York’s early...

  9. 4 Multiple Legacies: Julia de Burgos and Caribbean Latino Diaspora Writers
    (pp. 94-122)

    Just a decade after Julia de Burgos’s death in 1953, New York City was a very different place. In 1954, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled inBrown v. Board of Educationthat separate facilities are inherently unequal, putting an end to de jure racial segregation in the United States. In 1963, 250,000 people participated in the March on Washington for Freedom and Jobs, demanding the passage of meaningful civil rights legislation outlawing discrimination on the basis of color, race, or national origin. A year later, the Civil Rights Act was signed into law. Members of the Young Lords Party, which...

  10. 5 Remembering Julia de Burgos: Cultural Icon, Community, Belonging
    (pp. 123-146)

    Sites of memory—archives, museums, works of art, monuments, anniversaries, rituals—are fundamentally created, Pierre Nora says, “to stop time, to block the work of forgetting, to establish a state of things, to immortalize death, to materialize the immaterial.” Without the will to remember, history would soon sweep away these memories. Mass culture and the media toss aside memory in exchange for an endless film of current events. Sites of memory represent an attempt to capture a maximum of meaning in the fewest signs; these sites exist because of their “capacity for metamorphosis, an endless recycling of their meaning and...

  11. Color plates
    (pp. None)
  12. CONCLUSION: Creating Latinidad
    (pp. 147-150)

    The epigraph for this book, “The voice of an epoch is in the words of its poets,” is taken from Victor Hernández Cruz’s “Writing Migrations,” which explores the linguistic and cultural dislocations of writers and their work. He argues that while history books might recount a series of events, poets’ words capture the experience of living through a personal and public event. Hernández Cruz notes that Latin American poets who are unconventional and feel isolated and out of place in their homelands seek to migrate, perhaps first from the countryside to an urban area before moving on to a metropolitan...

  13. NOTES
    (pp. 151-166)
    (pp. 167-182)
  15. INDEX
    (pp. 183-196)
  16. Back Matter
    (pp. 197-198)