“Si la patria es pequeña, uno grande la sueña”! (English: “If the homeland is small, you dream of it big”!). These words were said by the most well-known Nicaraguan poet, Felix Ruben Dario. He was born in the rural town of Metapa, in the northern region of the country in 1867, and then he was raised by his aunt and uncle in the colonial city of Leon. As a boy he demonstrated to be a genius child. Amazingly at the young age of three years old he already knew how to read and write. Afterwards he started traveling extensively through the Americas as well as Europe where he impressed intellectuals with his poetry.
His Spanish language poems and verses had the influence of aesthetic ideals, Parnassians and symbolism. His three main works were “El Azul”, “Canto de Vida y Esperanzas” and “Prosas Profanas”. Ruben Dario died in 1916 in the city of Leon where he was buried at the base of the Saint Paul Apostle sculpted figure in the cathedral. He is known as the acknowledged father of the Modernism literary movement and praised as The Prince of Castilian letters.
Ernesto Cardenal is Nicaragua’s most recognized poet after Ruben Dario. He was born in the city of Granada in 1925. After graduating from the Jesuit school “Colegio Centroamerica”, he traveled to study Philosophy and Literacy at the Autonomous National University of Mexico. At the end of 1947 he departed to New York at the University of Columbia to get a specialization on American Literature. Then he had a sudden turn in his life and Ernesto Cardenal entered the Trappist Monastery of Gethsemani in Kentucky, United States. He was ordained a Catholic priest in 1965 in Granada. One of the most remarkable aspects of his life was the foundation of a Christian peasant community that led eventually to the creation of Solentiname’s artists’ colony. He was also an active intellectual member in the process of Somoza’s fall. During the Sandinista government, he was appointed Minister of Culture and favored Liberation Theology. He is one the founders of “Casa de los Tres Mundos, an international cultural center in Granada. Ernesto Cardenal is also a writer, sculptor, and essayist. He has received many prestigious local and international awards including the Peace Prize of the German Book Trade in 1980. Part of his literary work includes “El Estrecho Dudoso” (the Doubtful Strait), “Homenaje a los Indios Americanos” (Homage to the American Indians), Salmos (Psalms), and other important poems.
Gioconda Belli is one of contemporary Central America’s best known writers, novelist and poet. She studied and graduated from the Royal School of Santa Isabel in Madrid Spain, and then she took journalism and advertising in Philadelphia, United States. Her literary work has been translated and published in the United States and Europe. Belli’s literary career has from its beginning been intimately connected to her political life and the political life of her country, Nicaragua. She was forced to go in exile during Somoza’s government in 1975 and returned to Nicaragua after the Sandinista triumph in 1979. In 1982 she had different positions in the government working primarily in communications, journalism and public relations. Giconda Belli published her first novel “La Mujer Habitada” (The Inhabited Woman) in 1988. It is the story of a young, middle-class woman who joins the underground resistance and struggles to define her role in it in the face of her lover’s objections and her own middle class values and prejudices. This novel won “the best political novel of the year” by the German foundation Friedrich Ebert. She also won another prestigious award “Casa de las Americas” for her poetry work in Cuba. While her writing continues to reflect and incorporate the realities of Nicaragua, the depth of her themes and the originality of her voice have earned her recognition as a writer of international stature.
Other locally and internationally awarded writers and poets are Pablo Antonio Cuadra, born in Managua and founder along with Jose Coronel Urtecho of “the Nicaraguan Vanguard” literary movement in 1931. Sergio Ramirez is another great Nicaraguan writer, novelist, journalist and lawyer. He graduated from the Autonomous National University of Leon in 1964. He was elected Vice-president of Nicaragua during the Sandinista Government and also conducted the National Council of Education. Ramirez is a columnist for some important newspaper of the world; “El Pais” in Madrid, “La Jornada” in Mexico, “El Tiempo” in Bogota just to mention a few.
Nicaragua has many other well-known and recognized poets of great literacy importance like Carlos Martinez Rivas, Alfonso Cortez, Joaquin Pasos, Salomon de la Selva, and many more!