Guillén, Nicolás

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Guillén, Nicolás

(nēkōläs` gēyān`), 1904–89, Cuban poet. A leading exponent of poesia negra—an Afro-Antillean genre developed in the Caribbean—Guillén writes poetry charged with intense racial and political feelings. In Motivos de son (1930) and Sóngoro cosongo (1931) he employed native incantations, dances, and street cries. Guillén's later poetry, more traditional in form, is devoted to social and economic problems. It includes Balada (1962), Antología mayor (1964), and El gran zoo (1967, tr. 1972).

Bibliography

See his Man-Making Words (tr. 1972); W. Cartey Three Antillian Poets (1965).

Guillén, Nicolás

 

(full name, Nicolás Guillén Batista). Born July 10, 1902, in Camaguey. Cuban poet and public figure. Member of the Communist Party of Cuba since 1937.

Guillén’s first verses were published in 1919. His poetic cycles Song Motifs (1930) and Sóngoro cosongo (1931; Russian translation, 1967) deal with the life of Cuban Negroes. In the poetry collections West Indies Company (1934) and Songs for Soldiers and Songs for Tourists (1937), Guillén turned to political lyrics. His stay in Spain in 1937 is reflected in the narrative poem Spain: A Poem in Four Sorrows and One Hope (1937). Guillén supported the Republic in the struggle against fascism, actively taking part in the Popular Front’s press. The cycle All Songs (1947) tells of the struggle and the sufferings of Cuba and other Latin American countries. For his progressive activity Guillén was arrested several times by the government of the dictator Batista. During 1954-59 he lived abroad, visiting the USSR and other socialist countries. In 1958 he published the poetry collection The National Dove.

In 1959, after the triumph of the people’s revolution, he returned to his homeland and in 1961 was elected chairman of the Cuban Writers’ and Artists’ Union. His poetry collection All Mine (1964) dealt with the new socialist homeland. Guillén’s work is closely linked to Cuban musical and oral folklore. Guillén was influenced by the tradition of Creole folk poetry, the freedom-loving Cuban poetry of the 19th century, and the classical forms and meters of Spanish poetry. In 1950 he became a member of the International Council of Peace. Guillén received the International Lenin Prize for Strengthening Peace Among Nations (1954).

WORKS

Antología mayor. [Havana, 1964.]
In Russian translation:
Stikhi. Moscow, 1957.
Novye stikhi. Moscow, 1966.

REFERENCES

Ospovat, L. S. “Nikolas Gil’en i narodnaia pesnia.” In Istorikoetnograficheskie ocherki. Moscow, 1961. Pages 498-533.
Plavskin, Z. Nikolas Gil’en. Moscow-Leningrad, 1965.
Nikolas Gil’en: Biobibliografcheskii ukazatel’. Compiled by L. A. Shur. Moscow, 1964.
Zemskov, V. B. “Sony Gil’ena i narodnyi son.” Latinskaia Amerika, 1970, no. 3.
Augier, A. Nicolás Guillén, vols. 1-2. [Havana] 1962-64.

Z. I. PLAVSKIN