Gloria Fuertes Critical Essays


(Poetry Criticism)

Gloria Fuertes 1918–

Spanish poet and children's writer.

One of the poets that emerged in post-Civil War Spain, Fuertes has made a valuable contribution to twentieth-century Spanish poetry. Through her highly personal verse as well as her popular children's poetry, she has become an appreciated figure in Spanish culture. She has garnered attention for her unwavering commitment to social issues, and the promotion of peace, world harmony, and human understanding are considered defining characteristics of her work.

Biographical Information

Born in 1918 in Madrid, Spain, Fuertes was born to working-class parents and educated at a trade school for women. A teenager during the Spanish Civil War, her wartime experiences imbued her with an appreciation for peace, a recurring theme in her work. In 1939 she was hired as an editor by a publishing house and became a contributing writer for the children's magazines Pelayo and Maravilla. She also began to write poetry during this time, and published her first collection of verse, Isla ignorada, in 1950. She wrote both children's verse and poetry in subsequent years. In 1955 she began to study library science, and five years later started her career as a librarian. The publication of Que estás en la tierra—an anthology of her previously published poetry—garnered critical and commercial attention. In 1961 she received a Fulbright Fellowship to teach Spanish at Bucknell University in Pennsylvania. She has been a popular figure in her homeland because of her frequent appearances on children's television and her successful poetry readings.

Major Works

Fuertes's first collection of verse, Isla ignorada, draws from nature imagery and contains highly personal material. Both Antología y poemas del suburbio and Todo asusta evince characteristics of Fuertes's later work: autobiographical subject matter, use of free verse and conversational language, and the incorporation of themes such as social justice, religion, family, and human suffering. Death and life are the major concerns of Aconsejo beber hilo, and the collection explores Fuertes's existential philosophy. Her humor and imagination are displayed in Poetu de guardia, and the poems touch on topical themes of the time, including the Vietnam War and other world events. Her best-known collection, Historia de Gloria, consists of poems taken from her own personal diary. Reflecting on her childhood and her adult life, Fuertes once again celebrates life, love, peace, and the power of poetry to address social injustice.

Critical Reception

Fuertes's verse has been viewed by critics as testimonial poetry, characterized by its personal subject matter and confessional approach. Stylistically, commentators deem her use of colloquial language and a humorous tone as effective devices to explore the absurdity of human existence. Her poems often investigate death, alienation, human suffering, and suicide. Injustice and war are a special concern for her, and commentators assert that her sensitivity to the poor, women, and the exploited are defining characteristics of her work. In fact, critics praise her devotion to social issues and attempt to place her within the context of the social poetry that emerged from post-Civil War Spain.