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Portal, Magda (1900–1989)

Portal, Magda (1900–1989)

Born in Lima, Peru, on May 27, 1900, Magda Portal was a poet who won the Floral Games in poetry convened by the National State University of San Marcos in Lima in 1923. She was known as a political militant and cofounder of the American Popular Revolutionary Party (Alianza Popular Revolucionaria Americana, or APRA) in 1924 with Raúl Haya de la Torre, and of the Apra Party of Peru (1928).

Through her actions and writings she opposed the dictatorial pro-oligarchic governments of her time. She was deported and jailed. She denounced the conditions that resulted from the colonization of nations on the American continent and supported radical changes in the nations' politics and economies. She debated the socialist ideology of José Carlos Mariátegui. To both writers, the revolution represented a commitment to the creation of a new society that would not only improve the standard of living of Peru's poor but would also enable them to experience intellectual growth through the arts and sciences and allow their spiritual development. In 1948 she resigned from the Apra Party because it would not allow women to be executive members.

Portal promoted literature as an aesthetic practice with social and intellectual functions, and her work spanned several genres. Her poetry includes Ánima absorta (1925), Vidrios de amor (1925), Una esperanza y el mar (1927), Costa Sur (1945), and Constancia del ser (1965). Nonfiction works include the essays El nuevo poema i su orientación hacia una estética económica (1928), Frente al imperialismo y defensa de la Revolución Mexicana (1931), Hacia la mujer nueva (1933), Flora Tristán, la precursora (1946), and La mujer en el Partido del Pueblo (1948). She also wrote fiction: the short story collection El derecho de matar (1925), and one novel, La trampa (1956) In her poem "Palabras a Micaela Bástidas" (in Constanccia del ser, 1965, pp. 200-203), Portal portrays the prototype of "the new woman," an "immortal warrior" who plays a historical role in the name of liberty. For her conviction in the power of letters, Mexico named her Writer of the Americas in 1981. She died on July 11, 1989.

See alsoLiterature: Spanish America; Mariátegui, José Carlos; Peru, Political Parties: Overview; Peru, Political Parties: Peruvian Aprista Party (PAP/APRA).


Andradi, Esther, and Ana María Portugal, eds. Ser mujer en el Perú. Lima: Ediciones Mujer y Autonomía (1978): 209-232.

Arrington, Melvin S., Jr. "Magda Portal: Vanguard Critic." In Reinterpreting the Spanish American Essay: Women Writers of the 19th and 20th Centuries, edited by Doris Meyer, pp. 148-156. Austin: University of Texas Press, 1995.

Bermúdez Gallegos, Marta. "Magda Portal, la eterna rebelde." In Las desobedientes, edited and introduced by Betty Osorio de Negret and María Mercedes Jaramillo, pp. 298-308. Bogota: Panamericana Editorial, 1997.

Bustamante, Cecilia. "Magda Portal y sus poderes." Ciberayllu, November 16, 2003. Available from

Castañeda Vielakamen, Esther. El vanguardismo literario en el Perú: Estudio y selección de la revista Flechas (1924). La Victoria, Peru: Amaru Editores, 1989.

Forgues, Roland. "Magda Portal: Nací para luchar." In Palabra Viva Las Poetas se Desnudan, pp. 51-62. Lima: El Quijote, (1991).

Grünfeld, Mihai. "Voces femeninas de la vanguardia: El compromiso de Magda Portal." Revista de Crítica Literaria Latinoamericana 51 (2000): 67-82.

Guardia, Sara Beatriz. Mujeres peruanas: El otro lado de la historia. Lima: Mineva, 2002.

Mariátegui, José Carlos. "Magda Portal." 7 Ensayos de inter-pretación de la realidad peruana. Lima: Biblioteca Amauta, 1928.

Reedy, Daniel R. Magda Portal: La pasionaria peruana; Biografía intelectual. Lima: Ediciones Flora Tristán, 2000.

Rojas Benavente, Lady. "Mujeres y movimientos sociales en América Latina: Ángela Ramos and Magda Portal, escritoras políticas de pie en la historia del Perú." Available from

Santisteban, Rocío Silva. "Cuidado zona de deslizamientos: La cuestión de la estética y el poder en la recepción de los debates sobre 'literatura femenina' en el Perú." In Repensando la violencia y el patriarcado frente al nuevo milenio: Nuevas perspectivas en el mundo hispánico y germánico, edited by Fernando de Diego and Ágata Schwartz, pp. 219-242. Ottawa, ON: University of Ottawa, 2002.

Smith, Myriam. "Re-Thinking the Vanguardia: The Poetry and Politics of Magda Portal." PhD diss., University of California, Santa Barbara, 2001.

Unruh, Vicky. "Las rearticulaciones inesperadas de las intelectuales de Amauta: Magda Portal and María Wiesse." In Narrativa femenina en América Latina: Prácticas y perspectivas teóricas [Latin American women's narrative: Practices and theoretical perspectives], edited by Sara Castro-Klarén, 93-110. Princeton, NJ: M. Wiener, 2003.

Weaver, Kathleen. "Magda Portal: Translation-in-Progress." Translation Review 32-33 (1990): 41-43.

                                  Lady Rojas Benavente

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