Though primarily known as a poet, the prolific Claribel Alegría (ahl-ay-GREE-ah) has published in a range of genres, sometimes in collaboration with her husband and principal translator, Darwin “Bud” J. Flakoll. Alegría and Flakoll collaborated on the novel Cenizas de Izalco (1966; Ashes of Izalco, 1989), on a translation of the poems of Robert Graves (1981), on the anthology New Voices of Hispanic America (1962), and on the testimonials Nicaragua: La revolución sandinista, una crónica política, 1855-1979 (1982; Nicaragua: the Sandinista revolution, a political chronicle, 1855-1979), Para romper el silencio: Resistencia y lucha en las cárceles salvadoreñas (1984; to break the silence: resistance and struggle in Salvadoran prisons), and Fuga de Canto Grande (1992; Tunnel to Canto Grande, 1996). Alegría also has published novellas, three of which are collected in Album familiar (1982, 1986; Family Album: Three Novellas, 1991), as well as essays and children’s literature. She has also edited poetry collections.
Claribel Alegría’s Ashes of Izalco, a novel about the 1932 massacre known as the Matanza, was a finalist in 1964 in the Biblioteca Breve contest, sponsored by the Spanish publishing house Seix Barral. In 1978, she won Cuba’s prestigious Casa de las Américas Prize for her volume of poetry Sobrevivo (I survive). In 2006, Alegría capped her career with the Neustadt International Prize for Literature. Perhaps most important, Alegría brought Central American literature, especially women’s writing, to the attention of readers in the United States, and with it she brought a concern for the political situation in El Salvador and Nicaragua in particular. Her works have been translated into more than ten languages.
Aparicio, Yvette. “Reading Social Consciousness in Claribel Alegría’s Early Poetry.” Cincinnati Romance Review 18 (1999): 1-6. Contends that Alegría’s earlier, more metaphorical and less overtly “resistant” poetry contains implicit social criticism and deals with issues of injustice and power relations in a more allegorical manner than her later overtly politicized poetry.
Beverly, John, and Marc Zimmerman. Literature and Politics in the Central American Revolutions. Austin: University of Texas Press, 1990. Traces the development of popular revolutionary poetry and testimonial narrative as reactions to historical events in Nicaragua and El Salvador, and stresses the importance of revolutionary Salvadoran women poets such as Alegría.
Boschetto-Sandoval, Sandra M., and Marcia Phillips McGowan. Claribel Alegría and Central American Literature: Critical Essays. Athens: Ohio University Center for European Studies, 1994. An excellent collection of essays on Alegría’s major works and themes. One essay specifically treats her poetry. Includes an interview with the poet and a chronology of her life and works, along with a bibliography of publications by and about her.
Craft, Linda J. Novels of Testimony and Resistance from Central America. Gainesville: University Press of Florida, 1997. The...
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