(Hon. Mention) The Non-Nicaraguan Reader: Poetry Workshops and the Nicaraguan Revolution


The Nicaraguan Revolution was a revolution in culture. After 500 years of imperialism, cultural policy was to rescue indigenous practices and progressive intellectualism that the Somozas had systemically marginalized, express the country’s recent history of the struggle, and encourage the masses to construct a new nationalism by democratizing artistic creation. The Sandinista National Liberation Front (FSLN) viewed culture as essential to the texture of the political, social, and economic revolution. In its best-known artistic initiative, the Ministry of Culture designed Talleres de Poesía—neighborhood workshops that taught the proletarian classes how to write poetry—to democratize and decentralize the production of culture. But the FSLN’s unity of vision splintered as early as 1981, when the Sandinista Association for Cultural Workers (ASTC) began accusing the Ministry of “totalitarian” methods that imposed a single aesthetic for populist ends. The conflict, which lasted the entire decade, made evident the paradox of the poetry workshops—as an initiative to democratize culture while serving a single revolutionary party.

Scholars have analyzed the controversy in terms of domestic politics. They have focused on battles between Minister of Culture Ernesto Cardenal and ASTC president Rosario Murillo over individual power, the role of amateur and professional artists, elitist views on the role of culture in society, and the role of women in the revolution. They have less frequently examined the way that Nicaragua’s international reputation as a “land of poets” indirectly shaped how the FSLN treated the poetry workshops. From the time of Rubén Darío, Nicaraguan poetry had long been a symbol of continental anti-imperialism. Non-Nicaraguan intellectuals, who had known the leftist pulse of Nicaragua through its famous poetry and poets, viewed the country’s verse—and the Sandinista revolution—as symbols of Latin American and Third World anti-imperialism. Thus in the pre-triumph period, the international presence of Nicaraguan poets made poetry an effective tool for mobilizing intellectuals abroad. The Sandinistas’ widespread travels internationally also contextualized the revolution in a larger continental struggle. After the triumph, this international audience and regional presence of Nicaraguan verse raised the stakes for domestic workshops to sustain the image of the Nicaraguan poet as a symbol of anti-imperialist revolution over independent nationalism. These global dimensions can partially explain the collective voice of the new poetry and the Ministry’s relatively strong grip on the workshops, and more broadly reflect the tension between the Sandinistas’ goals to create a uniquely Nicaraguan national culture while enlisting Nicaraguan culture in the continental and Third World struggles for freedom.

Since Rubén Darío began the Modernismo Movement in the late 19th century, Nicaragua has been called the “land of poets.” Darío, both in Nicaragua and beyond, became a symbol of the cultural capital that partisan groups fought to claim; his ambiguous body of political literature allowed Somoza to cast him as a Liberal in support of the established political and social order, while allowing the Sandinistas to claim him as a national symbol of anti-imperialist independence.[1] Intellectuals around the world admired Darío. In a trip to Moscow, FSLN founder Carlos Fonseca writes proudly that the Russians had praised Darío.[2] Thus poetry provided an arena for politics on both progressive and conservative sides. Indeed, the vanguardia of the 1930’s, including Coronel Urtecho and Pablo Antonio Cuadra, dreamed of a revolutionary break from the culturally banal past but undermined their own efforts in a fascist turn that prompted them to support Somoza; the Generation of 1940, which included poets such as Ernesto Mejía Sánchez, Carlos Rivas, and Cardenal, supplanted them as the opposition. As the opposition fermented in the 1950s under Somoza, poetry became more of a tool of the revolutionaries. The lack of cultural institutions such as universities, museums, and research institutions had already driven much of the intellectual and cultural community into informal settings, including newspapers, journals, memoirs, novels, and poetry.[3] Through avant-garde organizations such as Ventana, Praxis, and Gradas, student activists and nascent FSLN leaders began articulating a cultural-ideological front of Sandinismo that saw cultural revolution as central to political transformation. For the intellectual vanguard in the land of Darío, culture most often meant poetry.

Student experiences outside of Nicaragua reinforced poetry’s ties to revolution. Born under a totalitarian dynasty that did not foster an environment of progressivism or political dissent, several middle-to-upper-class leaders of the FSLN first developed revolutionary consciousness studying poetry in Latin America, North America, and Europe. In the mid-1960s, FSLN founder Carlos Fonseca—the son of a well-off father and working-class mother—was exiled to Mexico, where he began researching Darío’s admiration for Soviet poet Maxim Gorky. Exile for literary study was a common path for FSLN members in their early years, as the oppressive environment under Somoza[4] forced young Nicaraguan intellectuals including Fonseca and Cardenal to gravitate towards leftist intellectual centers such as San José, Mexico City, Paris, Moscow, New York, and Havana.[5] In the same self-destructive way that the hypocrisy and corruption of the power elite prompted many disillusioned privileged youth to join the FSLN, Somoza himself seeded the conditions for intellectual flight to foreign countries, where future Sandinistas such as Fonseca and Cardenal discovered revolution indirectly through poetry.

In some cases, political consciousness through poetry led to a more direct connection between poetry and the revolution. Many FSLN poets left Nicaragua to mobilize regional solidarity networks. Former Secretary of the Ministry of the Interior and poet Francisco de Asís Fernández (nicknamed “Chichí,”) first became aware of the Nicaraguan reality while outside the country, as a co-owner of an artists’ café in Puerto Rico. “I was impressed when I heard Angel Rama, [the Uruguayan writer], talking about Solentiname… and I was taken aback that I didn’t even have any idea how strong the Sandinista National Liberation Front was,” he recalls in an interview with writer Margaret Randall.[6] His Puerto Rican experience prompted him to return to Nicaragua, where he pursued revolutionary theatre and joined the FSLN. In 1974, Chichí went to Mexico with his wife, the poet Gloria Gabaurdi, to begin rallying support for Nicaragua. They reached out to Mexican poets Carlos Pellicer, who supported the Sandinistas until his death in 1979, and Thelma Nava, who organized the Mexican Committee of Solidarity with the Nicaraguan People. The head of the Ministry of Culture’s department of literature, Julio Valle-Castillo, too spent time in Mexico supporting the solidarity campaign – he arrived to study Spanish literature with poet Ernesto Mejía Sánchez, who became his mentor for understanding the Nicaraguan struggle. By the time Chichí and Valle-Castillo left Mexico, they had established ties to the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) and mobilized “tens of thousands of people… [in] the streets… involving all the political parties and all the labor unions” for the Sandinistas.[7] Chichí also began building broader Central American support along political-literary lines – in October of 1977, he established the committee for Latin American Solidarity, which included Mexican sociologist Pablo González Casanova, Colombian writer Gabriel García Márquez, Peruvian writer Genaro Carnero Checa, Brazilian writer and politician Francisco Juliaou, Uruguayan journalist Carlos Quijano, Argentinian writer Rodolfo Puiggrós, and Panamanian writer Jorge Turner. He even brought revolutionary musician Carlos Mejía Godoy to sing about Nicaraguan struggles in Mexico; revolutionary song was a cousin of poetry as another oral cultural tradition. Toward the end of the struggle, Chichí went to Costa Rica to head a camp to train and teach five to six hundred combatants on the Southern Front about class struggle and Nicaraguan history. Revolutionary writers such as Chichí and Valle-Castillo discovered revolutionary consciousness in artistic settings—mingling with artists in a Puerto Rican café or studying Spanish literature in a Mexican university—and laid the foundations for FSLN regional support by reaching out to Latin American artists who saw the struggle as a broader continental mission.

Regional politics and intellectual currents—and, above all, the Cuban Revolution and Guevarism—further enriched revolutionary understandings of Nicaraguan reality. After a trip to Cuba in 1970 to serve as a judge in a poetry contest organized by Casa de las Américas, the Cuban cultural organization, Cardenal radically changed his perspective on the Nicaraguan revolution. He chronicled his encounters with the Cuban people in his In Cuba (1972), in which he concludes that the Cuban revolution was “the Gospels put into practice,” and attempted to reconcile violent insurrection with his Christian faith. He adopted Che’s theory of the “New Person” and drew lessons from Cuba for his future cultural policy. Such regional links through art to wider audiences allowed Nicaraguans to spread their revolution before the triumph. The Casa de las Américas Prize—the prestigious literary awards given annually to Latin American writers—gave other Nicaraguan writers, including Belli (1978) and Lizandro Chávez Alfaro (1963), the chance to publicize their revolutionary writing. The prize allowed Belli to publicize the revolution, for it held “intellectual prestige: it opens doors, and we needed every door open to tell the world what was happening in our country.”[8] Nicaraguan writers’ engagement with Cuba, then, came not only through strictly political support for the revolution, but also through poetry. For Cuba and Nicaragua, poetry served as a meeting point for the exchange of cultural and intellectual programs.

Intellectual work, as a disguise for subversive activity, allowed writers to work regionally for the FSLN. Novelist Sergio Ramírez, who became a revolutionary as a student at university in León, left school in 1964 to take a job with Carlos Tunnerman, the future Minister of Education famous for spearheading the literacy campaign of 1980. Tunnerman invited Ramírez to work at the Costa Rica-based Central American University Council of Higher Education (CSUCA), an organization dedicated to integrating Central America’s university systems. By 1968, Ramírez had scaled the ladder of its bureaucracy and became Secretary General. By 1976, he was working for the FSLN full-time, focusing on organizing its “Group of Twelve,” an alliance of intellectuals, businessmen, and other professionals that lobbied for FSLN representation in future political negotiations and helped convince the international community that the Sandinistas were not Soviet pawns. Ramírez was able to accomplish this maneuver because he had been re-elected as Secretary General of CSUCA, which was a “cover… because CSUCA has diplomatic status in Costa Rica.”[9] Similarly, in Mexico, Chichí and his wife “met many writers and used our literary relationships as a cloak for our work.”[10]

While both prose and poetry mobilized the elite, poetry was more influential as a revolutionary form. The FSLN used poetry to unify the front: combatants received verse as didactic and indoctrinating texts. Promoting poetry by martyrs such as Leonel Rugama was the primary way of mobilizing the front; revolutionary songs by Carlos Mejía Godoy, which resembled poetry either as a lyrical oral form or starkly as revolutionary poetry set to music (“No Pasarán” was originally a Belli poem), often served a didactic purpose; “Guitarra Armada” (1979) taught combatants how to use arms and explosives.[11] Poetry, like song, was a “uniquely portable” form of literature that could be more easily produced and circulated in poverty and underground, unlike novels or scientific-technical writing that required large-scale publishers and distributers.[12] Writers consciously used their poetry to communicate with the international community as well. While in exile, Belli learned how “to sensitize people to what we Nicaraguans were going through…being a poet could also be a weapon in the struggle…it was my responsibility to attain a level of quality which would allow me to motivate people, get my message across.”[13] Cardenal, outraged by Somoza’s destruction of Solentiname, his agrarian artists’ commune that originally conceived of the poetry workshops, spoke abroad about Solentiname’s cultural vision in order to build solidarity and raise money for the FSLN. For both FSLN combatants and international networks, Sandinistas explicitly promoted poetry to bolster the revolution.

Poetry indirectly stirred revolutionary consciousness by bringing Nicaraguan writers in contact with leftist intellectuals, who supported the revolution in direct ways. The regional networks in Cuba, México, Costa Rica, and Honduras—established by artists and intellectuals in exile—became the foundations for the rear guard that provided technical assistance and military resources for the FSLN. As a communicative tool, poets built solidarity both within the front and internationally. Nicaraguan poetry’s regional and international presence would influence the poetry workshops after the triumph.

The poetry workshops originated in Solentiname, Cardenal’s Christian artistic peasant commune based in islands off Lake Nicaragua. Since its founding in 1966, Cardenal had encouraged “primitivist” painting and artisanal work but had not introduced poetry into the community. In 1976, Costa Rican poet Mayra Jiménez arrived having successfully taught poetry to children in Costa Rica and Venezuela before. She set up workshops for reading, discussing, and analyzing poetry. Soon after the workshops launched, the peasants began writing on their theologist, a development he negotiated through poetry.[14] As spontaneously as they had own initiative.

The poetry workshops—a literary manifestation of the “democratization of culture”—were not originally part of the plan. In the 1969 version of “The Historic Program of the FSLN,” the revolution aimed only to “establish the bases for the development of the national culture, the people’s education, and university reform,” only vaguely saying it would “develop the national culture and root out the neocolonial penetration.”[15] The manifesto did not include decentralizing the production of culture. Cardenal based much of his cultural policy off his experience in the utopian commune, where poetry flourished by coincidence.[16] In fact, Cardenal doubted that the campesinos would be able to understand his poetry at all, even though he had already begun moving towards exteriorismo, the direct, simple language style of poetry.[17] Perhaps Cardenal’s hesitation, if not an affirmation of poetry’s elite status in Nicaragua, reflected poetry’s status as a cultural-intellectual tool above all. While at Solentiname, he evolved from a pacifist Christian to a militant Marxist liberation won the revolution, then, the Ministry spread poetry on the national level in the new country—Nicaragua saw as many as 70 workshops around the country, serving over 500 poets as of 1983.[18] Poetry had abruptly changed from a symbol of revolutionary, nationalist unity to a means of political democratization. Yet poetry played a unique role before the triumph as both an explicitly political tool for the revolution as a mobilizing force and an art form belonging to a Nicaraguan tradition of aesthetic excellence. Unlike other art forms, which had their modes of production decentralized through local cultural centers that saw less oversight, democratizing poetry had specially designed workshops headed by Jiménez, who personally visited every workshop and screened the poetry for publication.

Despite their genuinely democratic and popular nature, the poetry workshops saw more hands-on involvement from the Sandinistas than any other artistic initiative, which contributed to a backlash. Although the FSLN refuted accusations of homogeneity, the workshops did stress the collective over the individual voice. In the FSLN newspaper Barricada, Cardenal issued seven rules of what not to do in poetic practice, urging against rhyming and clichés while encouraging discussion of sensible objects over ideas.[19] The poetic style of exteriorismo, direct, concrete, and colloquial language based on US poet William Carlos Williams’ “Imagist” poetry, led to work that was “eminently revolutionary…a testimonial poetry, a historical poetry, a geographical poetry. A permanent feature of this poetry is the presence of nature itself: the names of trees, rivers, and birds…the names of our leaders, the heroes who died, the people who served in the literacy and health brigades.”[20] Although genuinely popular and democratic, the poetry workshops did stress unity. In the 1983 anthology Poesía de la Nueva Nicaragua, nearly every poem focuses on the revolution, especially the guerrillas and martyrs of the struggle. Reading, discussing, and analyzing poems in a collaborative editing process likely encouraged unity. Moreover, the workshops catered to former combatants in insurrectionary communities: the first neighborhood workshops began in Monimbó, Subtiava, and the armed forces; as of 1983, 90% of the poets from the workshops served in the revolution and 50% were fighting in the Popular Sandinista Army, the air force, the police, or State Security.[21] In her introduction to the anthology, Jiménez wrote that “lo importante es que hayan adquirido la formación técnica y literaria suficiente para poder trabajr su obra. Aunque es más importante analizarla siempre en grupo por la connotación social que esto le impone.”[22] Although the Sandinistas censored as minimally as possible overall in the revolution, this collective “social connotation” mattered more than individual expression in the poetry workshops. Compare this activity with the Ministry’s laissez-faire attitude towards local cultural centers and FSLN-critical cooperative theatre; only the vigorous literacy crusade surpasses the poetry workshops. [23]Perhaps the Ministry simply had a personal affection for poetry, but verse also carried high stakes for success as Nicaragua’s historically preferred art form. Poetry, as had been demonstrated during the struggle, had won an internal and external readership and thus had implications for both domestic and international support.

Indeed, to measure the success of the poetry workshops qualitatively, Cardenal emphasized the praise won from international audiences for the proletarian poetry. In his introduction to the workshop anthology—printed for Spanish-speaking non-Nicaraguans, as Poesía Libre published workshop poetry regularly for Nicaraguan readers—Cardenal measures the workshops’ success in terms of international approval, before moving on to Nicaraguan writers’ own opinions of the work. His urgency suggests that the poetry is worth reading based on international writers’ approval. He notes that Solentiname poetry had been published in Nicaragua, Cuba, México, Venezuela, the United States, and Germany; that Oxford-based scholar Robert Pring-Mill studied the workshop poetry, considering them worthy of intellectual focus; that one of the most important Cuban writers was writing an essay on the poetry; that Italian editors asked for permission to publish a book of poetry; the New York Times once wrote highly about the workshops; that a London-based journalist wrote admiringly about how Nicaraguan poetry was more accessible than Ezra Pound’s, despite having adopted a similar Imagist style; that Venezuelan intellectual Joaquín Marta Sosa declared it the first socialization of the modes of producing art. International writers, for Cardenal, validated the poetry workshops with their attention and support.

The presence of the non-Nicaraguan reader can perhaps explain why Cardenal emphasizes the tradition of high-quality Nicaraguan poetry in the context of cultural revolution. The first page of his introduction to the anthology celebrates Nicaragua’s “gran tradición de poesía,” which structurally frames his discussion of the workshops in the context of the literary tradition that earned Nicaragua the name “land of poets.” Indeed, when he begins to address the talleres, he writes: “Me doy cuenta cabal por primera vez por qué Nicaragua había tenido una gran tradición de poesía: y es porque en Nicaragua, aunque no había ese nombre, siempre hubo Talleres de Poesía…Desde Rubén Darío hasta acá habido un solo gran taller de poesía. Y no ha habido ruptura de generaciones.” The talleres fit neatly in the narrative of Nicaragua’s literary history as a natural extension of past culture, almost as if the revolution had not happened. Cardenal offers a peaceful retelling of cultural history that seeks as much continuity with the past as possible, and does not explicitly address the neocolonial penetration he had so ardently sought. Why does Cardenal place the poetry workshops in the context of traditional poetry, emphasizing continuity over change? First, he wants to focus on how the revolution has “elevated,” but not degraded, the quality of poetry that had been historically strong. But he may also be conscious of his audience of Spanish-speaking non-Nicaraguans. Cardenal’s focus on Nicaraguan literary tradition may be working to attract the support of non-Nicaraguans who see Nicaragua as a “nation of poets.”

Famous artists from around the world advocated for the Sandinistas in terms of their dissatisfaction with U.S. neocolonialism, which they understood through poetry. From Latin America, García Márquez and Cortázar, who had supported the initial revolution, continued to support the FSLN. From the U.S., actress Susan Sarandon, poet Allen Ginsberg, poet Adrienne Rich, poet Anne Waldman, poet Lawrence Ferlinghetti, and musician Jackson Browne publicized an empathetic view of the Sandinistas; around the world, Nobel Prize-winning British playwright Harold Pinter, Indian writer Salman Rushdie, and U.S.S.R. poet Yevgeny Yevtushenko expressed their solidarity. Almost all these artists first encountered the Sandinistas through literature, especially poetry. In January 1982, Ginsberg and Yevtushenko attended the Managua Poetry Festival organized by Cardenal to celebrate the anniversary of Rubén Darío’s declaration of cultural independence. In their collaborative manifesto, “Declaration of Three,” the three poets call on international writers to support Nicaragua’s sovereignty explicitly in terms of the Cold War and Nicaragua’s poetry experimentation:

We don’t want to see Nicaragua become a puppet in anyone’s hands… we are witnesses that here in Nicaragua, which suffered so much under tyranny, misery, and ignorance, there is an intent on the part of the people to defend their economic and intellectual independence. Nicaragua is a big experimental workshop for new forms of get-together wherein art plays a primordial role. Many Nicaraguans – not only intellectuals – but also workers, farmers, the militia, write verse today, with hands tired of weapons. Let’s give them the possibility to write poetry with ink and not blood.

We call the world’s writers to come to Nicaragua to see with their own eyes the reality of Nicaragua and lift their voices in defense of this country, small but inspired. They’ll be welcome and can acquaint themselves directly with the true character of this revolution, of the efforts of the people to create a just society exempt from violence, a revolution whose image is being consciously distorted by those who have an interest in destroying the alternative which it proposes.[24]

The manifesto ends with an appeal: “We trust that if the writers of the world get together, their pens will be mightier than any [U.S. imperialist] sword of Damocles.” As expected, the US and USSR poets framed the Nicaraguan struggle in terms of the Cold War. The key here is that these internationally-renowned poets came to Nicaragua to celebrate Rubén Darío, a symbol of both Nicaraguan anti-imperialism and the country’s national strength in poetry; they produced manifesto that praised the poetry workshops as an anti-violent aspect of the revolution. Poetry, especially poetry’s rich tradition and high profile in Nicaragua, continued to be a major draw for intellectuals worldwide and fueled the ongoing international support for the revolution.

High-profile writers such as Rich, Ferlinghetti, and Rushdie visited Nicaragua on both political and poetic premises. Rich, after receiving an invitation to a writers’ conference in Nicaragua, felt compelled to visit to “see what art might mean” in Nicaragua, an anti-consumerist revolutionary society of poets. Rich found “what was constantly and tellingly expressed was a belief in art, not as a commodity, not as luxury, not as suspect activity, but as a precious resource to be made available to all, one necessity for the rebuilding of a scarred, impoverished and still-bleeding country.”[25] Ferlinghetti went on the invitation of Cardenal in 1984, knowing only the Reagan administration’s portrayal of Nicaragua, and left strongly in support of the Sandinistas (“[Poets] should go down there and come back here and tell people about what they saw and experienced. That’s what I’m doing.”).[26] Rushdie went in 1986 on an invitation to an ASTC conference and recorded his experience in The Jaguar Smile, in which he speaks against the Contra War and US imperialism in the region after spending his week mostly with Nicaraguan poets. In their Nobel Prize speeches, Pinter and García Márquez mentioned Nicaragua in attacks against U.S. aggression and in Latin American solidarity.[27] Writers worldwide saw the Sandinista Revolution and its cultural revolution as part of a broader vision of Latin American anti-imperialism. Nicaraguan poetry, which won the support of leftist intellectuals throughout the revolution, still stood on an international stage. Since Darío, the Nicaraguan poet had represented continental anti-imperialism in ways that may have indirectly intensified Cardenal’s and Jiménez’s hold on the poetry workshops.

That is not to suggest that international writers pressured poetry workshops into homogeneity. The link is too indirect, and it is still unclear if Cardenal and Jiménez consciously emphasized collectivity in the poetry workshops with an international audience in mind. Cardenal and Jiménez’s artistic preferences, as well as domestic rivalries with the artists’ union, may also account for the controversy. But acknowledging the non-Nicaraguan reader would explain why the Ministry paid careful attention to the poetry workshops and emphasized their continuity with Nicaragua’s historic strength in poetry, especially as a tool of leftist politics.

Sandinista poetry received much international attention before the revolution, making it a site of spectacle that raised the stakes for the success of the poetry workshops. Verse represented more than strategic alliances or tactical support for the revolutionary party – Nicaraguan poetry also offered a “human face” to the democratic socialist revolution that faced such defamation from U.S. propaganda. The collective voice that emerged in the literature, though not ideal, also proved that the Sandinistas successfully involved the masses in cultural production. As politically leftist but unofficial ambassadors for the Sandinista cultural and political revolution, writers worldwide condemned the U.S. and defended the Third World broadly, but also celebrated the Cultural Revolution as a powerful symbol of the revolution’s spirit and idealism in itself. Poetry provided a platform to win new support of from international writers—verse’s deep roots in the anti-imperialist fight went hand-in-hand with the historically high quality of the country’s verse. The poetry workshops, while certainly reflective of conflicts in domestic politics, had the indirect impact of shaping Nicaragua’s global presence, and sharpening the revolution’s continental mission.

This essay was awarded a 2013 Acheson Prize Honorable Mention.

Sarah Swong (’15) is a History major in Pierson College.

[1] Whisnant, David E. Rascally Signs in Sacred Places: The Politics of Culture in Nicaragua (Chapel Hill: The University of North Carolina Press, 1995), 313-343.

[2] Beverley, John, and Marc Zimmerman. Literature and Politics in the Central American Revolutions (Austin: University of Texas Press, 1990), 34.

[3] Beverly and Zimmerman, 36-48.

[4] Ibid., 31.

[5] Ibid., 31. Cardenal went to graduate school at Columbia University, where he developed an appreciation for U.S. poets such as Walt Whitman— “America’s poet”—and Ezra Pound.

[6] Margaret Randall, Risking a Somersault in the Air: Conversations with Nicaraguan Writers (San Francisco: Solidarity Publications, 1984), 176. Solentiname, the artistic peasant community in Nicaragua, was begun by future Ministry of Culture leader Ernesto Cardenal in 1966.

[7] Randall, 181.

[8] Ibid., 148.

[9] Ibid., 35.

[10] Ibid., 181.

[11] Ibid., 31. From 1968 onwards, cultural-ideological work was the central way of unifying the front domestically, as the FSLN moved towards a strategy called “accumulation of forces” that used ideological texts and literature to build solidarity among social groups. Prose texts, too, mattered: Fonseca had already written Ideario político de Augusto César Sandino, which became the indoctrination manual for the FSLN. From 1969-1974, imprisoned FSLN leaders including Carlos Gudamuz, Jacinto Suárez, and Daniel Ortega snuck out writings to the lower-level FSLN members. Books such as Gudamuz’s Y las casas se llenaron de humo, which memorialized fallen FSLN member Julio Buitrago, became “study material for compañeros working underground and in the University Student Revolutionary Front (FER).

[12] Ibid., 49.

[13] Randall, 148-9.

[14] Ibid., 104.

[15] Borge, Tomás, and Carlos Fonseca et. al, Sandinistas Speak (New York: Pathfinder Press, 1982), 16-17.

[16] It became characteristic for the Ministry of Culture to work ad hoc as an experiment in cultural revolution; the lack of clarity on the Ministry’s role and cultural policy contributed to its dissolution later on. See Ross, Peter. “Cultural Policy in a Transitional Society: Nicaragua, 1979-89,” Third World Quarterly 12, no. 2 (1990): 110–129.

[17] Randall, 107.

[18] White, Steven. Culture & Politics in Nicaragua (New York: Lumen Books, 1986), 110.

[19] Craven, David. Art and Revolution in Latin America, 1910-1990 (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2002), 137-8.

[20] White, 110.

[21] Ibid., 113; Jímenez, Mayra. Poesía De La Nueva Nicaragua: Talleres Populares De Poesía (Mexico: Siglo Veintiuno Editores, 1983), 18-38.

[22] Ibid., 18-38.

[23] Craven, 142-3.

[24] Ginsberg, Allen, Yevgeny Yevtuchenko, and Ernesto Cardenal, “Declaration of Three,” January 26, 1982.

[25] Rich, Adrienne. “Blood, Bread and Poetry: The Location of the Poet,” The Massachusetts Review 24, no. 3 (October 1, 1983): 521–540.

[26] Folpendesta, David. “Nicaragua Libre: A Conversation with Lawrence Ferlinghetti,” March 18, 1984, <http://www.chrisfelver.com/books/nicaragua_interiew.pdf>.

[27] Pinter, Harold. “Nobel Lecture: Art, Truth & Politics,” December 17, 2012 and Márquez, Gabriel García, “Nobel Lecture: The Solitude of Latin America,” December 17, 2012, <www.nobelprize.org>.


Works Cited:

Beverley, John, and Marc Zimmerman. Literature and Politics in the Central American Revolutions. Austin: University of Texas Press, 1990.

Borge, Tomás, Carlos Fonseca, Daniel Ortega, Humberto Ortega, and Jaime Wheelock.      Sandinistas Speak. New York: Pathfinder Press, 1982.

Cardenal, Ernesto, Michael T. Martin, and Jeffrey Franks. “On Culture, Politics, and the State in  Nicaragua: An Interview with Padre Ernesto Cardenal, Minister of Culture.” Latin American Perspectives 16, no. 2 (April 1, 1989): 124–133.

Craven, David. Art and Revolution in Latin America, 1910-1990. New Haven: Yale University Press, 2002.

García Márquez, Gabriel. “Nobel Lecture: The Solitude of Latin America,” December 17, 2012.  <http://www.nobelprize.org/nobel_prizes/literature/laureates/1982/marquez-lecture.html>.

Ginsberg, Allen, Yevgeny Yevtuchenko, and Ernesto Cardenal. “Declaration of Three,” January   26, 1982. <http://www.allenginsberg.org/index.php?page=declaration-of-three>.

Jiménez, Mayra. Poesía De La Nueva Nicaragua: Talleres Populares De Poesía. Mexico: Siglo Veintiuno Editores, 1983.

Pinter, Harold. “Nobel Lecture: Art, Truth & Politics,” December 17, 2012. <http://www.nobelprize.org/nobel_prizes/literature/laureates/2005/pinter-lecture-e.html>.

Randall, Margaret. Risking a Somersault in the Air: Conversations with Nicaraguan Writers. San Francisco: Solidarity Publications, 1984.

Rich, Adrienne. “Blood, Bread and Poetry: The Location of the Poet.” The Massachusetts Review 24, no. 3 (October 1, 1983): 521–540.

Ross, Peter. “Cultural Policy in a Transitional Society: Nicaragua, 1979-89.” Third World Quarterly 12, no. 2 (1990): 110–129.

Whisnant, David E. Rascally Signs in Sacred Places: The Politics of Culture in Nicaragua. Chapel Hill: The University of North Carolina Press, 1995.

White, Steven. Culture & Politics in Nicaragua: Testimonies of Poets and Writers. New York: Lumen Books, 1986.


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