This commentary is inspired to a large degree, but not solely, by literary critic Vanessa Pérez-Rosario's remarkable book Becoming Julia de Burgos: The Making of a Puerto Rican Icon. Aiming to undertake a historical and critical engagement with some aspects of Pérez-Rosario's meticulous and insightful analysis that invite elaboration, it is an unpretentious effort to offer an intellectual and personal island and stateside Puerto Rican perspective that further contextualizes the ongoing reencuentro (reengagement) with the now-indisputable iconic poet, as well as the author's own journey of rediscovering Burgos's writings. During the Julia de Burgos centennial celebration in 2013, island scholars began to finally refer to her as “la poeta nacional.” Two basic questions guide this commentary: What are some of the individual and collective circumstances and factors that account for the prolonged delay and neglect by Puerto Rico's literary establishment in giving the poet her due recognition? What were some of the circumstances that converged to thrust such a gifted writer and social and political revolutionary into the physical and mental ravages of alcohol addiction, wandering and ultimately dying on the streets of her beloved El Barrio (Spanish Harlem)?
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Edna Acosta-Belén; Rediscovering Julia de Burgos: The People's Rebel Soul Poet. Small Axe 1 November 2017; 21 (3 (54)): 188–202. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/07990537-4272085
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