Nancy Morejón Hernández

Article Bio Works Merits Projects www
crossroads:
gender, history, identity, politics
genre(subgenre):
Written and spoken word (poetry, translation)
region:
America, Caribbean, Africa, Southern
country/territory:
Cuba, South Africa
created on:
August 31, 2004
last changed on:
Please note: This page has not been updated since January 12, 2011. We decided to keep it online because we think the information is still valuable.
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Article

´Me rebelé´

Nancy Morejón was born in Havana on Cuba in 1944, where she was the first Afro-Cuban woman to gain a BA. As a poetess she helped the autonomous poesía negra to achieve a breakthrough, and by now her poetry has been read widely at home and abroad. Besides being the head of studies at the Casa de las Americas in Havana she works as a translator, especially in translating French poesy and literature into Spanish.
Nancy Morejón Hernández, born in Havana in 1944, is the Afro-Cuba poet who has had the greatest influence on the poetry of her country since 1959. Together with Georgina Herrera and Excilia Saldana she is one of the most eminent exponents of poesía negra in Cuba. As a literary academic, writer and translator she has a central place in the contemporary Cuban cultural scene.

Her Afro-Cuban background and the history of her country are important factors to her work. The struggle against slavery, the rebellion against the Spanish regime, the riots during American occupation, and the victory over the Batista dictatorship are some of the topics of her exceptional poetry, that shows art and revolutionary struggle as two sides of the same story. The historical materials she interprets artistically, like the revolts and revolutions of the past, the present and the future – for her is to be seen in the spirit of Marx and Lenin as inevitable stages in the progress of humanity.

Her most important mentor in her early years was the famous poet of revolutionary Cuba, Nicolás Guillén (1902-1989). As his longterm co-worker she has written an extensive biography about him and published an anthology of his works. Guillén in turn dedicated his poem ´Nancy´ to her.

If her early work was said to be metaphysical and partly surrealistic, she now has put more emphasis on social struggles and the fighting against social and post-colonial injustice. Today, she embodies the poetry of Havana and the revolution - the poetry of the people living by the sea, the poetry of the island, of the Caribbean, a poetry to be fuelled by two powerful sources, her African and Spanish heritage, two sources that have blended into a specificly Cuban mixture, as Kathleen Weaver wrote about Nancy Morejón.

Like Rafaela Chacon Nardi and Lina de Feria, she developed in her poetry a unique kind of poetic eroticism, differing from the macho image of a heterosexual pillar of family and state, and from the fetishised African woman as an obscure object of male desire. Her most famous poem, ´Mujer negra´ (1975), presents in a compact and partly hermetic form the history of Afro-Americans from the era of slavery up to the present.
Author: Alexander Knaak

Bio

Nancy Morejón was born on 7th August 1944 as the daughter of a harbour worker and a seamstress in Havana on Cuba, where she grew up in the heart of the old part of town. On finishing high school (1961) she published her first collection of poems ´Mutismos“ (1962) at the age of 18. She went on to Havana University, where she studied French language and literature and was the first Afro-Cuban student to gain a BA (licenciatura). Her thesis was about the person and work of the poet Aimé Césaire, whose play ´Un temporada en el Congo´ she translated and arranged for production.

While studying, she also worked as a poet and journalist, taught French at the academy Gustavo Ameijeiras (1963-64), and earned her money doing translations for the Cuban home office. In 1964 already, her second collection of poems ´Amor, ciudad atribuida“ was published. She then became an editor of the Union of Cuban Writers and Artists (Unión de Escritores y Artistas de Cuba). Besides fulfilling these tasks, she found time to finish her third book ´Richard trajo su flauta y otros argumentos´ (1967).
She edited a first collection of texts about Nicolas Guillen in 1974. In 1979 she represented Cuba at the poetry festival ´Alexander Pushkin´ in the Soviet Union.

Since the 1980s she has published a new collection of poems nearly once a year. Her award-winning monograph about Guillen appeared in 1982. Apart from that, as a translator she saw to the publishing of the works of Paul Éluard, Jacques Roumain und Aimé Césaire in Cuba. In 1992 she visited Cape Town to take part in lectures and workshops.

In 1991 Nancy Moréjon has become a member of the Cuban Academy of Arts and Sciences. From 1986 to 1993 and again from 2000 on she has headed the Cuban research centre at the Casa de las Americas in Havana, an institution founded in 1959 by Haydee Santamaría to further cultural exchange with Latin America and the Caribbean (www.casa.cult.cu). She has won the CubanPremio de la Crítica four times so far; since 2000 she has been a member of the Academia Cubana de la Lengua; and in 2001 she received the Cuban national prize for literature.

When US actor Danny Glover was savaged by the conservatives for criticising the US government´s policy towards Cuba in 2003, Nancy Moréjon launched a solidarity appeal from artists all over the world, to let him feel the support of friends and colleagues.

For several years she has also been a visual artist.

Works

Translations

Established,
2004
Paul Laraque: Las armas cotidianas, col. Premio, ed. Casa de las Américas: La Habana, 1979. Nicole Cage Florentiny: Arcoiris, la esperanza, col. Premio, ed. Casa de las Américas: La Habana, 1996. Ernest Pépin: Remolino de palabras libres, col. Premio, ed. Casa de las Américas: La Habana, 1991. Édouard Glissant: Fastos, Ediciones Vigía: Matanzas, 1998. Édouard Glissant: Fastos y otros poemas, col. Pasamanos, ed. Casa de las Américas: La Habana, 2001.

Non-fiction / Anthologies

Published Written
Recopilación de textos sobre Nicolás Guillén: Selección, prólogo y notas de Nancy Morejón., 429 pp, Serie Valoración Múltiple, ed. Casa de las Américas: La Habana, 1972. Nación y mestizaje en Nicolás Guillén: 332 pp, col. Premio, ed. Unión: La Habana, 1982. Fundación de la imagen: 294 pp, col. Giraldilla, ed. Letras Cubanas: La Habana, 1988. With Eyes and Soul: Images of Cuba. Trans. Pamela Carmell and David Frye. White Pine Press, 2004.

Poetry books

Published Written
Mutismos: ed. El Puente: La Habana, 1962. Amor, ciudad atribuida: ed. El Puente: La Habana, 1964. Richard trajo su flauta y otros argumentos: col. Cuadernos, ed. Unión: La Habana, 1967. Parajes de una época: col. Mínima, ed. Letras Cubanas: La Habana, 1979. Poemas (Antología): Selec. y pról. de Efraín Huerta, Ilustración de cubierta Wifredo Lam, ed. Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México (UNAM): México D.F., 1980. Octubre imprescindible: col. Contemporáneos, ed. Unión: La Habana, 1982. Elogio de la danza: col. Cuadernos de Poesía, ed. Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México (UNAM): México D.F., 1982. Cuaderno de Granada: ed. Casa de las Américas: La Habana, 1984. Grenada Notebook: Traducción de Lisa Davis, ed. Círculo de Cultura Cubana: New York, 1984. Where the Island Sleeps Like a Wing (Antología bilingüe): Traducción, Selec. e Introducción de Kathleen Weaver, Pról. de Miguel Barnet, , ed. The Black Scholar Press: San Francisco, 1985. Poems (Antología): Selección de Sandra Levinson, ed. Center for Cuban Studies: New York, 1985. Piedra pulida: col. Giraldilla, ed. Letras Cubanas: La Habana, 1986. Premio de la Crítica 1986. Ours the Earth (Antología): Traducción, selec. y pról. de Joe Pereira, , ed. Instituto del Caribe de la Universidad de West Indies (UWI): Kingston/Jamaica, 1990. Baladas para un sueño: col. Ciclos, ed. Unión: La Habana, 1991. Poemas de amor y muerte: ed. Revista Caravelle (separata): Toulouse, 1993. Paisaje célebre: ed. Fondo Editorial Fundarte: Caracas, 1993. Le Chaînon Poétique: Traduction de Sandra Monet-Descombey, Ilustración de cubierta del pintor dominicano José Castillo. Préface de Delia Blanco et Pilar Paliès, ed. Médiathèque Champigny-sur-Marne: Paris, 1994. El río de Martín Pérez (Antología): Ilustraciones del pintor Rolando Estévez, col. Clásicos del San Juan, ed. Vigía: Matanzas, 1996 Elogio y paisaje: Ilustraciones de la autora, col. La Rueda Dentada, ed. Unión: La Habana, 1997. Premio de la Crítica 1997. Botella al mar (Antología): Selec. y pról. de Adolfo Ayuso, col. Poesía, ed. Oliphante: Zaragoza, 1996. Richard trajo su flauta y otros poemas: Selec. y pról. de Mario Benedetti, ed. Visor: Madrid, 1999. La quinta de los molinos: Ilustraciones de Reynaldo González, 135 pp, col. Cemí, 2000, ed. Letras Cubanas: La Habana. Premio de la Crítica 2000. Black Woman and Other Poems (Bilingual edition): Translated, annotated and introduced by Jean Andrews, Cover Artwork by the author, ed. Mango Publishing: London, 2001. Cuerda veloz, Editorial Letras Cubanas, 2002. Mirar Adentro/Looking Within: Selected Poems, 1954-2000 (bilingual edition, African American Life Series). Ed. Juanamaria Cordones-Cook: Wayne State University Press, 2002. Carbones silvestres, 2006. Antología poética (1962-2000), selección y prólogo de Gerardo Fulleda León Caracas: Editorial Monteávila, 2006.

Merits

Nancy Morejón Hernández has won the CubanPremio de la Crítica four times so far. Since 2000 she has been a member of the Academia Cubana de la Lengua, and in 2001 she received the Cuban national prize for literature.

Projects

This artist took part in the following project(s) organized/funded by the culturebase.net partner institutions.

Black Atlantic

(17 September 04 - 15 November 04)

Www

Further information on Nancy Morejón