"Well-written, interesting, suspenseful. . . . Gold's charming and insightful portrait of the colorful and controversial poet reconstructs her life [and] re-creates life in Juticalpa at the turn of the century, focusing on factors that shaped Clementina's mind and outlook and led her to create her poetry."--Nora Erro-Peralta, Florida Atlantic University
"Masterful storytelling. . . . I found myself riveted to the pages, eager to learn more about Suárez's life. . . . Within the first pages of the prologue, the reader feels included in this very private world. One of the greatest merits of the text is Gold's own prose, elegant and poetic in its own right."--Nancy Saporta Sternbach, Smith College
Clementina Suárez (1902-91), the legendary matriarch of Honduran letters, scandalized Central American society with her bohemian lifestyle, her passionate woman-centered poetry, and her dedicated and unconventional promotion of art and literature.
This first biography of the notorious poet follows her life from the family home in an isolated rural province of Honduras to New York, Mexico, Cuba, and El Salvador, placing her in the company of some of the major figures of twentieth-century Latin American cultural and political life.
Using layers of rich sources--interviews with Suárez and her daughters and sisters conducted during a year's stay in Honduras, recollections and written tributes of friends and artists, and archival material from public and private collections in Central America--Janet Gold weaves together the story of a writer who stubbornly chose to live as she pleased, with a well-balanced discussion of the social and cultural climate of twentieth-century Central America. In Gold's words, she paints a portrait of "haciendas and cantinas, mule trips to Tegucigalpa, and poetry recitals in the National Theatre. . . . posing for Diego Rivera, partying with Pablo Neruda and Miguel Angel Asturias, writing poems about sexuality and political commitment."
In the Honduran psyche, Suárez has played the roles of liberated woman, fallen woman, femme fatale, prostitute, broken-hearted lover, muse, revolutionary poet, and respected woman of letters. The process of reconciling the conflicting stories about Suárez with her personal response to this extraordinary woman enriched Gold's task as a feminist biographer and led her to examine and appreciate the complex nature of "life writing." The result is this portrait of a woman poet that brings to life the person yet leaves the legend intact.
Janet N. Gold is assistant professor of Latin American literature at Louisiana State University. She is the author of numerous essays and articles published in journals such as Hispanic Review, Discurso Literario, Chasqui, and Letras Femeninas.
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"Readers most interested in the role of the 'poet' will not be disappointed by Gold's approach. She has done an admirable job of translating texts to weave into her narrative. Translations and the original poems side by side are followed by interpretive insights."
"Gold is to be commended for bringing the author's name to the English-speaking audience." Chasqui