Nicaraguan poet and novelist Gioconda Belli, known for her feminist and erotic literature, was awarded the Reina Sofia Ibero-American Poetry prize Monday.
Considered among Latin America’s best-known writers, Belli’s work has been translated into more than 20 languages and includes 15 poetry collections, eight novels, and seven books of essays, testimonials and children’s stories. The prize is considered the most important for Spanish and Portuguese poetry.
Her first poems were published in the Managua newspaper La Prensa when she was 20 years old. Her first poetry collection, “Sobre la grama,” or On the Grass, was published in 1972.
“I couldn’t be happier than to have won this poetry prize,” Belli said via Twitter Monday. “I celebrate the enriching of Nicaragua’s poetry tradition. I dedicate it to my Nicaragua, mother of my inspiration, sorrowful country of my hope. Long live poetry!!!”
Belli was stripped of her Nicaraguan citizenship by the government of President Daniel Ortega and lives in Spain. Along with dozens of other prominent critics of Ortega’s regime, Belli saw her properties in Nicaragua seized by the government in February.
Belli already had Italian citizenship, but also accepted citizenship from Chile.
Ricardo Rivero, rector of Spain’s Salamanca University, which jointly awards the prize, said in a statement announcing the prize winner that beyond the quality Belli’s literature she has defended “values like the dignity of a person, the fight against tyranny and the maintaining of a coherent position at all times.”
Ortega’s government has driven thousands of Nicaraguans out of the government since popular protests erupted in 2018 and expelled more than 200 prisoners considered by many to be victims of political persecution earlier this year, also stripping them of their citizenship.
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