April 1, 2015

BOOK OF THE MONTH: BECOMING JULIA DE BURGOS: The Making of a Puerto Rican Icon by Vanessa Pérez-Rosario

   
¡Río Grande de Loíza!… Mi manantial, mi río,
desde que alzome al mundo el pétalo materno;

Río Grande de Loíza!… My wellspring, my river
since the maternal petal lifted me to the world.
                        ---Julia de Burgos, Río Grande de Loíza




Illinois University Press
How many of us have heard of Julia de Burgos but never read any of her poetry?  How many of us have heard of how she died and was buried in a potter’s field, but never realized the extent of her influence?

Professor Vanessa Pérez-Rosario has written a new book on Julia de Burgos’ life and her place in Puerto Rican culture.  

Julia de Burgos was a poet and activist.  Her influence spread in the 1930s when the nationalist movement on the island was run by men to the Nuyorican writers of the 1970s to today’s modern writers who have adopted Julia as their lost mentor, their lost sister.  

SUMMARY:  Becoming Julia de Burgos departs from the prevailing emphasis on the poet and intellectual as a nationalist writer to focus on her contributions to New York Latino/a literary and visual culture. It moves beyond the standard tragedy-centered narratives of de Burgos's life to place her within a nuanced historical understanding of Puerto Rico's peoples and culture to consider more carefully the complex history of the island and the diaspora. Pérez-Rosario unravels the cultural and political dynamics at work when contemporary Latina/o writers and artists in New York revise, reinvent, and riff off of Julia de Burgos as they imagine new possibilities for themselves and their communities.

Check out this video where author Vanessa Pérez-Rosario talks about her book to Pura Politica, NY 1 Noticias. Click here.  (interview in Spanish).

Many cities in Puerto Rico and the United States have schools and cultural centers named in her honor.  Here in New York we have The Julia De Burgos Cultural Arts Center in Harlem.  Visit them to learn more about this amazing poet at: www.juliadeburgos.org.



ABOUT THE AUTHOR:  Vanessa Pérez-Rosario is Associate Professor of Puerto Rican and Latino Studies at Brooklyn College—City University of New York. Her research and teaching interests include Transnational Feminism and Latino Cultural Studies. She is the author of BECOMING JULIA DE BURGOS: The Making of a Puerto Rican Icon (University of Illinois Press, 2014) and the editor of HISPANIC CARIBBEAN LITERATURE OF MIGRATION: Narratives of Displacement (Palgrave 2010). She has received numerous fellowships including the Woodrow Wilson Career Enhancement Fellowship, a Post-Doctoral Fellowship at the Center for Puerto Rican Studies, an American Association of University Women fellowship and a library fellowship at the David Rockefeller Center for Latin American Studies at Harvard University. Her work has appeared in Centro Journal, Meridiansand Translation Review. She currently serves on the board of Recovering the U.S. Hispanic Literary Heritage project at the University of Houston. She is Interim co-Principal Investigator of the CUNY—New York State Initiative on Emergent Bilinguals.  To learn more about this author and Julia de Burgos, visit www.vanessayperez.com.