Fuertes, Gloria

Fuertes, Gloria
b. 1918, Madrid; d. 1998, Madrid
   Poet, writer and editor
   An unconventional figure, Gloria Fuertes actively refuses to fit any mould—either as a poet or as a woman. In her introduction to Obras Incompletas (Incomplete Works) published by Cátedra in 1975, she expresses the angry suspicion that a minority, composed of critics and academics, will now descend upon her poems to classify them according to existing literary or social categories. Fuertes has always preferred to project the image of a popular poet in direct communication with a majority: the people.
   Born to a working-class family who lived in a poor quarter of Madrid, her writing is steeped in the slang and colloquialisms of this setting. The Civil War marked the beginning of her adult life, and anti-war sentiment became a thematic constant. However, it was not until after Franco's death that Fuertes made open references to her own experience of the war and the subsequent dictatorship. Her poetry began to appear in journals during the 1940s, and she progressed through a series of occupations until becoming, remarkably for a poet, financially self-supporting through her writing. Despite her current disavowal of being influenced by other poets, it can be seen that Fuertes developed within various traditions to emerge with a singular voice and style after decades of writing. Her initial connection with surrealism was interrupted by another idea which came into play in the 1950s, when a group of poets focused on the common man. Alongside Celaya and others, Fuertes" main objective was to draw attention to the injustice of the social system. They believed this was possible through the revolutionizing of poetic language, so they began exploring the potential richness in everyday speech. From now on Fuertes" background was to feed into her poetry, as she demonstrated an ability to record and transform the ordinary with pathos and humour. Eventually she moved on in a more personal direction, recording her experience as a woman and a writer in poems that are exceptionally short, a form she herself dubs "mini-poems". Though not wishing to be considered a feminist, Fuertes often reminds interviewers that she and other women poets gathered weekly in the 1950s for an alternative tertulia called "Poetry in Skirts". The presence of social concerns continues unabated into the 1990s, and a deeper exploration of the sensory and ludic potential of language is revealed in her collections: Historia de Gloria: Amor, humor y desamor (Gloria's Story: Loving, Laughing and Unloving) (1980) and Mujer de verso en pecho (Woman with Poetry Within) (1995).
   Further reading
   - Capuccio, B.L. (1993) "Gloria Fuertes frente a la critica", Anales de la literatura contemporanea 18, 1: 89–108 (this overview of critical approaches to Fuertes" poetry is an indispensable bibliography).
   - Sherno, S.R. (1989–90) "The Poetry of Gloria Fuertes: Textuality and Sexuality", Siglo XX 7, 1–2: 19–23 (valuable study of the relationship between poetry and gender, though overly informed by universal feminist categories).
   JESSAMY HARVEY

Encyclopedia of contemporary Spanish culture. 2013.

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