Longreads

Artist and writer Molly Crabapple retraces the steps of twentieth century poet Julia de Burgos, who was born in 1914 in Carolina, Puerto Rico, and lived and worked throughout the island, Cuba, and the United States before an early death in 1953. De Burgos is largely unknown outside of Puerto Rico; Crabapple weaves a story of the poet’s literary accomplishment and the origins of her feminist, nationalistic ideals, with that of Puerto Rico’s resilience in the wake of Hurricane Maria.

What was truly to blame for her decline? Was it thwarted ambition? Government surveillance? Poverty? Her knack for stirring up jealous gossip? The racism and sexism any brown woman would have faced? In New York, she worked blue-collar jobs: power press operator, sales clerk, seamstress. She stormed out of a factory after fighting with fascists, quit a newspaper because the director was reactionary. Her marriage collapsed in stages. She drank…

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