Clara Isabel Alegría Vides was born in Estelí, Nicaragua, to a Salvadoran mother and a Nicaraguan father, but her family soon moved to Santa Ana, El Salvador, because of the political problems her father suffered as a Sandino sympathizer. In 1932, she witnessed the Matanza, in which more than thirty thousand peasants were slaughtered by government troops after a peaceful protest against the military dictatorship.
Alegría published her first poems in 1941. In 1943, she went to the United States to attend a girls’ school near New Orleans, Louisiana. She next attended George Washington University, where she met her husband, Flakoll, an American journalist from South Dakota who was studying for his master of arts degree. They married in December, 1947. In 1948, Alegría graduated with a bachelor’s degree in philosophy and letters. Later that same year, her first book of poetry, Anillo de silencio (ring of silence), was published in Mexico. She gave birth to a daughter, Maya, in Washington, D.C., in 1949, and twin daughters, Patricia and Karen, in Alexandria, Virginia, in 1950. In 1951, the family visited El Salvador briefly before moving to Mexico, where their circle included various writers and intellectuals, some living in exile like Alegría.
In 1953, the family moved to Santiago, Chile, where they lived for almost three years, to work on an anthology (and translation) of Latin American writers and poets, New Voices of...
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