Spanish poetry could technically be that written in the Spanish language and therefore include poets that originated from other Spanish speaking countries.
Therefore, let’s look at some significant writers both from the country of Spain itself and then broaden our scope to highlight the best of the others!
Going back to 1863 Seville, we see the birth of Gustavo Bécquer, who was a poet of the romantic period and widely considered to be a forerunner of the modern Spanish poetic movement. He was a writer of extreme sensitivity using his personal feelings to fuel his poetry, which was only published in book form after his death, through the efforts of his appreciative friends.
Born somewhat later in 1898, Federico García Lorca came from humble beginnings as the son of a Spanish farmer but was never the less encouraged to pursue his literary talent from an early age. Writing his first book in 1919 based on landscapes he had visited he went on to become a full-time poet, forsaking university in his pursuit of this career. His poetic works, often influenced by folklore and Gypsy life, garnered much praise and he remains a key figure in the history of Spanish literature.
Ángel González Muñiz was born in 1925 and died in 2008. He is widely regarded as a major contributor to the poetry of the twentieth century offering an incisive view of the world around him. Whilst in Madrid he first published his work, at the encouragement of some of his contemporaries and his first book of poetry “Harsh World” was an instant success. He went on to receive many prestigious awards and to publish eight further books of poetry much of which is represented in anthologies of Spanish Poetry from the 20th century.
grew up in Chile and was significantly influenced and nurtured through his association with the poet Gabriela Mistral who herself had drawn attention to Latin American poetry through her writings. She saw in Neruda a burgeoning talent which was to come to fruition in 1921 with the acclaimed work translated ‘Twenty Poems of Love and One hopeless Song’. Today Neruda is considered to be one of, if not the most famous poet to emerge from Chile.
José Martí was born in Cuba to Spanish immigrant parents in 1853. He was an accomplished writer at an early age having several poems published by the time he was 15. As a poet he was very concerned with political issues and involved himself with the campaign for Cuban independence, which finally resulted in his being exiled. The intensity and fervor for the causes he held dear are threaded throughout exciting rhythms of his work which makes them compelling reading.
Women have featured strongly in the emergence of Latin American literature as demonstrated by the afore mentioned Gabriela Mistral. Julia de Burgos is widely considered the best poet to emerge from Puerto Rico and like many women and poets alike used her craft to high light the need for social and political change. Many strong voices have grown from the diverse Spanish and Latin cultures and are worthy of consideration when you are next looking for some interesting poetry!