Ondertexts
Julia de Burgos
Search

Julia de Burgos

Julia de Burgos Julia de Burgos[1†]

Julia de Burgos García (February 17, 1914 – July 6, 1953) was a Puerto Rican poet[1†][2†][3†][4†]. As an advocate of Puerto Rican independence, she served as Secretary General of the Daughters of Freedom, the women’s branch of the Puerto Rican Nationalist Party[1†]. She was also a civil rights activist for women and African and Afro-Caribbean writers[1†].

Burgos was born in Carolina, Puerto Rico, and was the oldest of thirteen children[1†][2†]. She graduated from the University of Puerto Rico with a degree in teaching and became a teacher at Feijoo Elementary School in Barrio Cedro Arriba of Naranjito, Puerto Rico[1†]. She also worked as a writer for a children’s program on public radio, but was reportedly fired for her political beliefs[1†].

Her work engages themes of feminism and social justice[1†][2†]. Since her death, she has been widely recognized as the contemporary foremother of Puerto Rico and of the Nuyorican poetry movement in New York[1†][2†]. In her work, Burgos asserted her African lineage, advocating for anti-imperialism and Puerto Rican national identity and independence[1†][2†].

Early Years and Education

Julia Constanza Burgos García was born on February 17, 1914, in Santa Cruz, Carolina, Puerto Rico[1†][5†]. She was the eldest of thirteen children born to Francisco Burgos Hans, a farmer and member of the Puerto Rico National Guard, and Paula García de Burgos[1†][5†]. Tragically, six of her siblings died before reaching adulthood[1†][5†].

Burgos’ early life was marked by her family’s move from Carolina to the barrio of Santa Cruz[1†]. Her parents divorced when she was six years old, and she and her sisters were raised by their mother[1†][6†]. Despite these challenges, Burgos showed a passion for learning from an early age. She was the only one among her siblings who attended school, and she began writing poetry at an early age[1†][6†][7†]. Her first poem was published in a local newspaper when she was only thirteen[1†][6†].

In 1928, after graduating from Muñoz Rivera Primary School, her family moved to Rio Piedras[1†]. There, she was awarded a scholarship to attend University High School[1†][5†]. During her time at University High School, she excelled academically and engaged in various sports[1†][5†].

In 1931, she enrolled in the University of Puerto Rico, Rio Piedras Campus, with the aim of becoming a teacher[1†][7†]. Two years later, at the age of 19, Burgos graduated from the University of Puerto Rico with a degree in teaching[1†][7†]. She then became a teacher at Feijoo Elementary School in Barrio Cedro Arriba of Naranjito, Puerto Rico[1†][2†].

Burgos’ early education and experiences undoubtedly played a significant role in shaping her future career as a poet, activist, and advocate for Puerto Rican independence[1†][5†].

Career Development and Achievements

Julia de Burgos began her career as a teacher at Feijoo Elementary School in Barrio Cedro Arriba of Naranjito, Puerto Rico[1†][3†]. She also worked as a writer for a children’s program on public radio, but was reportedly fired for her political beliefs[1†][3†].

In 1936, Burgos started doing civil rights work and became a member of the Puerto Rican Nationalist Party (Partido Nacionalista de Puerto Rico). She was later elected as the Secretary-General of the Daughters of Freedom, the women’s branch of the Nationalist Party[1†][3†]. Her involvement in the nationalist movement and her advocacy for Puerto Rican independence were significant aspects of her career[1†][3†].

Burgos’ teaching career was cut short when she met her first husband, Ruben Rodriguez Beauchamp, in 1934[1†][3†]. After her divorce, Burgos started an intense romantic relationship with Dominican historian, physician, and political Juan Isidro Jiménez Grullón. They traveled to Cuba together in 1939 where Burgos briefly attended school at the University of Havana[1†][3†].

This was followed by a sojourn to New York City, where she worked as a journalist for Pueblos Hispanos, a progressive newspaper[1†][3†]. While starting a life of her own in New York City, Burgos met Vieques musician, Armando Marín. They married in 1943 but this marriage, too, ended in divorce[1†][3†].

In 1937, she published her first volume of poems, “Poemas exactos a mi misma”. Privately printed, it reflects the revolutionary patriotism of the Nationalist Party in Puerto Rico[1†][8†]. Her first work, “Río Grande de Loíza”, was published during this time[1†].

Burgos is considered by many as the greatest poet born in Puerto Rico, and, along with Gabriela Mistral, one of the greatest female poets of Latin America[1†][8†]. She also served as a civil rights activist for women and African/Afro-Caribbean writers[1†][8†].

First Publication of Her Main Works

Julia de Burgos’s literary career was marked by a series of powerful works that have had a lasting impact on Puerto Rican literature and beyond[1†][9†][10†][5†][11†]. Here are some of her main works:

Analysis and Evaluation

Julia de Burgos’s work is a reflection of her life, her beliefs, and the socio-political context of her time[12†][13†][14†]. Her poetry is marked by themes of feminism, avant-garde ideas, and the struggle for Puerto Rican independence[12†][13†].

In her poem “A Julia de Burgos”, she elaborates on the differences between her public and private identities[12†]. The poem is written in the second person point of view, where she criticizes her public self for being submissive to societal restrictions[12†]. The private figure Julia, on the other hand, is free and lives as she wants whether society approves or not[12†]. This poem reflects the themes of feminismo and la vanguardia which were gaining popularity at the time[12†].

Burgos was a teacher who fought for the rights of women, workers, and those who belonged to black culture[12†][13†]. Her works were very important in the feminist movement[12†][13†]. She was a vocal advocate for Puerto Rican independence as well, and her poetry often reflected her political views and her experiences as a woman of color in the United States[12†][13†].

Her journalism shows her political commitment to radical democracy, the struggle for immigrant and Puerto Rican rights, and her advocacy for solidarity with the African American community in Harlem[12†][13†]. The rise of McCarthyism in the United States and Puerto Rico led to the surveillance and repression of all believed to be communist sympathizers[12†][13†].

Burgos’s work has been examined 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 and beyond[12†][13†]. She is remembered as a revolutionary writer, thinker, and activist[12†][13†].

Personal Life

Julia de Burgos had a romantic relationship with Dominican physician Juan Isidoro Jiménez Grullón[5†]. She eventually married journalist Rubén Rodriguez Beauchamp and musician Armando Marín, both Puerto Ricans, between 1934 and 1946[5†]. In 1937, she began adding “de” before Burgos as a defiant feminist act to reclaim herself[5†].

In 1940, facing unemployment and political persecution, she moved to New York[5†][15†]. There she lived with her lover, Juan Isidoro Jimenes Grúllón, a Dominican intellectual and son of former president of the Dominican Republic, Juan Isidoro Jimenes Pereyra[5†][16†]. Later that year, De Burgos and Grúllón relocated to Cuba, where they remained for two years[5†][16†].

Burgos’ personal life was marked by her strong independentista ideology and her commitment to the Puerto Rican Nationalist Party[5†][1†]. Despite the challenges she faced, including political persecution and personal struggles, she remained dedicated to her political beliefs and her poetry[5†][1†].

Conclusion and Legacy

Julia de Burgos’ legacy is profound and enduring. She has been widely recognized as the contemporary foremother of Puerto Rico and of the Nuyorican poetry movement in New York[2†]. Her work, which asserted her African lineage and advocated for anti-imperialism and Puerto Rican national identity and independence[2†], continues to resonate with readers and inspire new generations of writers and activists[2†][17†].

Burgos’ struggle to establish herself as a writer, and her Pan-American and Afro-Antillean ideas enable us to read her as a precursor to later women writers of the Puerto Rican diaspora[2†][18†]. She rose from nowhere and achieved great success in her writing and social reforms[2†][19†]. Through her poetry, Burgos expressed her commitment to social justice and her belief in the power of language to transform the world[2†][17†].

Her most famous works, including “Poema en Veinte Surcos,” “Río Grande de Loíza,” “A Julia de Burgos,” and “Yo Misma Fui Mi Ruta,” remain powerful expressions of her vision and legacy, and serve as a testament to her enduring importance in Puerto Rican literature and beyond[2†][17†].

Key Information

Julia de Burgos was a celebrated literary icon of the Americas whose themes of Blackness, feminism, love, migration, nationalism, and nature helped birth the 1960s Nuyorican movement[1†][5†]. She was also a civil rights activist for women and African and Afro-Caribbean writers[1†].

References and Citations:

  1. Wikipedia (English) - Julia de Burgos [website] - link
  2. Poetry Foundation - Julia de Burgos [website] - link
  3. Literary Ladies Guide - Julia de Burgos, Puerto Rican Poet [website] - link
  4. Julia de Burgos Cultural Arts Center - Welcome to the Julia De Burgos Cultural Arts Center [website] - link
  5. BlackPast - Julia de Burgos (1914-1953) • [website] - link
  6. GoGreenva - Julia Burgos: A Life Dedicated To Teaching And Empowering Young Girls [website] - link
  7. Wander Women Project - Julia de Burgos, 1914-1953 [website] - link
  8. Prabook - Julia de Burgos (February 17, 1914 — July 6, 1953), Puerto Rican activist, poet [website] [archive] - link
  9. Culture Trip - 10 Best Works of Julia de Burgos [website] - link
  10. Simple Wikipedia (English) - Julia de Burgos [website] - link
  11. Encyclopedia.com - Burgos, Julia de (1914–1953) [website] - link
  12. Fiveable - "A Julia de Burgos” – Julia de Burgos [website] - link
  13. Oxford Bibliographies - Julia de Burgos [website] - link
  14. Ms. Magazine - A Latina Feminist to Remember: Puerto Rican Poet Julia de Burgos [website] - link
  15. Encyclopedia of Puerto Rico - Julia De Burgos [website] - link
  16. Academy of American Poets - About Julia de Burgos [website] - link
  17. Boricua - Julia Burgos’ Poetic Legacy [website] - link
  18. Springer Link - Hispanic Caribbean Literature of Migration - Chapter: Creating [website] - link
  19. Hispanic / Latino Nueva York - Impact of Julia de Burgos [website] - link
Text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License 4.0; additional terms may apply.
Ondertexts® is a registered trademark of Ondertexts Foundation, a non-profit organization.