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Nicolás Guillén (1902-1989)
La Habana: Imp.Ucar, Garcia y cia., 1934
First edition
PQ7389 G84 W4 1934

Nicolás Cristóbal Guillén Batista was a Cuban journalist, political activist and poet. Born of Afro-Cuban parents, he studied law at the University of Havana, but abandoned a legal career for typography and journalism. West Indies, Ltd. was his first collection of poetry with political overtones, reflecting the 1933 overthrow of Gerardo Machado’s dictatorial regime and the political repression that followed.

In 1936, Guillén was arrested and jailed. In 1937 he joined the Communist Party. He covered Spain’s Civil War as a reporter. In 1941 he was refused entry into the United States but traveled the rest of the world extensively. He was the inaugural winner of Cuba’s National Prize for Literature in 1983. His poetry is representative of “poesía negra,” a synthesis of black and Hispanic cultures, and is noted for its imitations of drums and drum-like rhythms.