where the writers are
Revolutionary Poetry
bibliomaniac
Now available in a Kindle edition for $2.99
Amazon.com Amazon.com
Powell's Books Powell's Books

Poets have always been political provocateurs. Ovid was exiled from Rome because of his criticism of the emperor Tiberius, and many poets have been in the vanguard of social change at least since the Romantic period (1750-1849). In some cases, they have helped to stir up a revolution. In Mexico many poets of the revolutionary period in 1910 wrote modernistic poetry that offered readers a new way of looking at their world.

One such poet was Ramon Lopez Velarde, who was born in the Mexican state of Zacatecas in 1888. When he came of age he entered a seminary but left after a few years to study law at the Universidad de San Luis Potosi. During the years of the Mexican Revolution, López Velarde openly supported the political reforms of Francisco Madero, the leader who incited a revolution against president Diaz in support of the peasants whose land had been seized by the government. In 1911 Velarde received his law degree and became a judge in the small town of Venado. According to an article in Wikipedia, “Velarde left his position at the end of the year and traveled to Mexico City, hoping that Madero, the new president of the republic, might offer him a position in his government.” However, Velarde’s ardent Catholicism prevented him from attaining any significant political advantage, and he turned to writing journalism. Despite his religious views, his poetry became increasingly modernistic.  In 1916 he published his first book, La sangre devota (The Pious Blood), which he dedicated to "the spirits" of the Mexican poets Manuel Gutiérrez Nájera and Manuel José Othón. The book was well-received by the Mexican literary community. Two other outstanding modernist poets of this period are Amado Nervo and Manuel Gutiérrez Nájera.

Outside Mexico, the composition and publication of political poetry has been flourishing for many years. Some of the many outstanding Latin American poets who have created works in the spirit of reform and revolution are Caesar Vallejo, Gabriella Mistral, Nicolás Guillén, Ernesto Cardenal, and Pablo Neruda.