Claribel Alegria was born in Nicaragua in 1924, but she considers herself Salvadoran, having grown up in Santa Ana, El Salvador. She has published more than twenty books in Spanish. In 1978 her book of poems, Sobrevivo, won Cuba’s Casa de las Americas Prize.
In Woman of the River one of the major voices in Latin American poetry confronts the political realities of contemporary Central America. Many of the poems are political, direct, and condemnatory of the United States’ presence in Latin America, and they are rich, human documents rooted in Alegria’s knowledge of and love for her subjects.
As Carolyn Forche has written of Alegria’s previous selection of poems, Flowers from the Volcano: “These poems are testimonies to the value of a single human memory, political in the sense that there is no life apart from our common destiny. They are poems of passionate witness and confrontation. Responding to those who would state that politics has no place in poetry, she would add her voice to that of Neruda’s: we do not wish to please them . . . .” She carries within her the ancient blood of the Pipiles and laces her language with mesitizo richness.”