Ballagas y Cubeñas, Emilio (1908–1954)

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Ballagas y Cubeñas, Emilio (1908–1954)

Emilio Ballagas y Cubeñas (b. 7 November 1908; d. 11 September 1954), Cuban poet and essayist. Born in Camagüey, Cuba, Ballagas's writing career began with a 1926 essay about Cuban patriot José Martí, which won him a scholarship sponsored by the Revista Martiniana to study at the University of Havana. Better known as a poet, he published his first compositions in Antenas in 1928 and in the avant-garde Revisita de Avance the following year. While a student at the university, Ballagas published his much-acclaimed "Elegía de Mariá Belén Chacón" in Revista de Avance (1930). One year later he published Júbilo y fuga, which confirmed Ballagas's importance as a national and international poet and signaled the first of three stages in his poetry.

Ballagas completed his Ph.D. in pedagogy in 1933 and taught at the Normal School for teachers in Santa Clara, becoming its director the following year. His Cuaderno de poesía negra (1934) and Antología de la poesía negra hispanoamericana (1935) exemplify the tradition of Afro-Cuban poetry. Although many of Ballagas's poems highlight the folkloric aspects of Afro-Cuban traditions, some speak to the economic and social conditions of blacks on the island.

During a trip to Paris in 1937 to research Amerindian languages at the Bibliothèque Nationale, Ballagas met many of the best-known poets of the period. In 1939 he published Sabor eterno, a collection of poems about love, written with the intense emotions that characterized the second stage of his poetry. Ballagas completed a second Ph.D. in 1946 and published his dissertation, "Situación de la poesía afroamericana," in the Revista Cubana and the anthology Maps de la poesía negra americana (1946). He traveled to New York and became associated with the Institute for the Education of the Blind.

Ballagas's religious feelings, which are expressed in the third stage of his poetry, are evident in Nuestra Señora del Mar (1943), dedicated to the patron saint of Cuba, the Virgen de la Caridad del Cobre. He continued his religious poems in Cielo en rehenes, which won the National Prize for Poetry in 1951, although it was not published until 1955, and Décimas por el júbilo martiano en el centenario del apóstol José Martí, a patriotic as well as spiritual book, which won the Centenario Prize in 1953, commemorating Martí's birth. Ballagas died in Havana.

See alsoLiterature: Spanish America .


Cintio Vitier, Lo cubano en la poesía (1958).

Samuel Feijóo et al., Lunes de Revolución 26 (1959).

Argyll Pryor Rice, Emilio Ballagas, poeta o poesía (1966).

Rosa Pallas, La poesía de Emilio Ballagas (1973).

Rogelio De La Torre, La obra poética de Emilio Ballagas (1977).

Argyll Pryer Rice, "Emilio Ballagas," in Latin American Writers, edited by Carlos A. Solé and Maria Isabel Abreu (1989), pp. 1081-1087.

Julio A. Martínnez, ed., Dictionary of Twentieth-Century Cuban Literature (1990), pp. 43-50.

Additional Bibliography

Barquet, Jesús J., and Norberto Codina, eds. Poesía cubana del siglo XX: Antología. Mexico: Fondo de Cultura Económica, 2002.

                                               William Luis

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Ballagas y Cubeñas, Emilio (1908–1954)

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