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Rafaela Chacón Nardi: poetry exposed to the elements



It is said that she wrote her first poems between the ages of seven and eleven and that almost when she was a teenager she ventured to show some of her verses to the outstanding writer and pedagogue Mirtha Aguirre. It was thus that Rafaela Chacón Nardile opened the doors of the literary universe. Born on February 24, 1926, in Havana, she became an outstanding personality in the world of literature in Cuba, "a woman determined to serve, a lady of nobility and extraordinary wisdom", as described by writer Leonardo Depestre Catony.

The outstanding intellectual studied teaching and then a degree in Pedagogy with outstanding results. This led her to work as a teacher at the Normal School for Teachers and in summer courses at the universities of Havana and Las Villas.

But Rafaela had in herself, along with teaching, the gift of literary creation. That is why her first productions appeared in the pages of the Gaceta del Caribe, Noticias de Hoy, El Mundo, El País, and in the magazines Lyceum and Bohemia.

In 1948, at the age of 22, she published her first collection of poems. Some time later she would receive a letter from Gabriela Mistral in which the Chilean praised the work and expressed that it was the best collection of women's poems that had reached her in years. "Its quality and femininity have captured me", commented the Nobel Prize winner in Literature in that letter, whose full text was reproduced in the second edition of the notebook, in 1957.

The work in the lyrical world of the "Rafaela de Cuba", as Mistral called her, accumulated more than 30 titles, which were translated into English, French, Italian, Czech, Russian, Romanian, Portuguese, Swedish, Esperanto and even Braille.

She designed and developed interesting pedagogical experiences in the field of visual arts, aimed at children with physical limitations. In 1971, under the auspices of Unesco, she founded the Creative Expression Group and, at the request of that international organization, she headed the Reading Promotion Clubs in Cuba, which had a great impact on the education of blind and low vision adolescents.

Tireless in her educational work, Rafaela organized children's workshops for the study of José Martí's work, while encouraging them to practice and learn about the different manifestations of art, considering this an unavoidable part of the education of children and young people.

The outstanding educator and writer was awarded the Alejo Carpentier Medal and other distinctions for her work. When she passed away on March 11, 2001, she left behind a lyrical production that included the following volumes: Viaje al sueño (1948 and 1957 in an expanded edition), Del silencio y las voces (1978), Coral del aire (1982), Una mujer desde su isla canta (1994), Vuelta de hoja (1995), Mínimo paraíso (1997) and Del íntimo esplendor (2000).

With simplicity and talent, always intoxicated with love, Rafaela Chacón Nardi, as highlighted in her work, managed to arouse the praise of leading literary figures such as Mirtha Aguirre, José Antonio Portuondo, Ángel Augier and Nicolás Guillén. The latter compared her to "a star on the night grass, detached from the sky by the storm". The National Poet, placed her next to Gertrudis Gómez de Avellaneda and María Zambrano, saying that her verses were stark: "poetry in the flower of words, exposed to the elements, like a simple event of nature".

Taken from September 5th

English version Hector Hdez.

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