Julia de Burgos Biography | Poet
Julia de Burgos Biography. Read biographical information including facts, poetic works, awards, and the life story and history of Julia de Burgos. This short biogrpahy feature on Julia de Burgos will help you learn about one of the best famous poet poets of all-time.
Julia de Borgus is one of the best Puerto Rican poets of the 20th century. She lived a tormented life but espoused her civil rights and feminist views through her poetry before it became popular to do so. Julia Constanza Borgus Garcia was born in Carolina, Puerto Rico on February 17, 1914. Always drawn to writing poetry, her career began at a young age. She led a difficult life and died alone at just 39 years old. When her family and friends discovered her death, they honored her life. Julia de Borgus' legacy is honored posthumously throughout the United States including her native Puerto Rico.
From Poverty to University
Julia de Borgus was the oldest of thirteen children. Her father was a farmer and National Guardsman. The family was poor and six of her younger siblings died of malnutrition. Julia began writing poetry at a young age and was granted a scholarship to University High School in Rio Piedros. She graduated with a degree in education at age nineteen from the University of Puerto Rico, Rio Piedros. Julia worked as a teacher before she was hired to write for a children's program at a public radio station. She lost her job with public radio presumably because of her political views.
Julia de Borgus was an advocate of civil rights and feminism at a young age. She became active in drawing attention to African/Afro-Caribbean writers and served as the Secretary General for the Daughters of Freedom, the women's branch of the Puerto Rican Nationalist Party. She advocated for Puerto Rican independence and led the cause for feminist rights in the 1930s. Her writing was influenced by Luis Lloréns Torres, Clair Lair, Rafael Alberti and Pablo Neruda.
Julia de Borgus' first published poem was titled Rio Grande de Loiza. She would go on to publish two collections of poetry and a third would be published posthumously. Julia's poetry, mostly written in Spanish, was lyrical and intimate. She writes of the land as well as the social struggles of the oppressed. Her eloquent and poignant writing influenced feminism and Hispanic culture and spoke of troubled times and love.
Love and Loss
In 1934, Julia de Borgus married Ruben Rodrigues Beauchamp. Beauchamp inspired her to stop teaching and begin her writing career. Their marriage was short-lived and they were divorced in 1937. It was at that time that Julia fell deeply in love with a Dominican physician, Dr. Juan Isidro Jimenes Grullón. The two went to Cuba where Julia studied at the University of Havana. There relationship was the subject of many of Julia's poems as well as her political ideals. The couple went to New York City where Julia began work as a journalist for a progressive Hispanic newspaper, Pueblos Hispanos. They relationship broke up and Julia, depressed, worked several small jobs in New York City. A short-lived marriage to Armando Marin, a musician lasted from 1943 until 1947. Julia slowly spiraled into depression and alcoholism.
A Tragic End
Julia de Borgus' last published poem, Farewell In Welfare Island, was written in 1953 and believed to be the only poem she wrote in English. At the time she was living with relatives in Brooklyn and was hospitalized. The poem seems to foreshadow her death. Soon after, Julia disappeared.
On July 6, 1953, Julia collapsed on a street in Harlem and died at of pneumonia in a hospital there. She had no identification on her body and was buried in a potter's field on Hart Island. When her friends and family finally discovered what had happened to her, they had Julia's body exhumed and returned to Puerto Rico for a proper burial. On September 6, 1953, Julia was finally given the hero's honor she had earned. She is buried at the Municipal Cemetery of Carolina and a monument stands at her burial site.
Although she led a depressed and troubled life, Julia de Borgus has received great honor since her death. Throughout the decades since she passed, there have been streets, parks, schools and a domestic violence shelter named for her in Chicago, Philadelphia, New York City and Puerto Rico among other places. Sculptures and monuments have been erected in her name and Yale University named its Latino Culture Center in her honor. A biopic and a documentary were filmed about the life and poetry of Julia de Borgus in recent years. She was pictured on the first United States stamp honoring a line of literary greats. In 2011, Julia de Borgus was posthumously elected to the New York Writers Hall of Fame.
Although short, Julia de Borgus lived a profound life and expressed it through her poetry. She rose from poverty and supported and influenced causes that would not become popular until the latter part of her life. Although she died alone and nameless, countless admirers sought to honor her legacy as the greatest female poet from Puerto Rico of the twentieth century.