Monday, January 4, 2010

Clemente Soto Vélez

A poet, journalist, activist and nationalist..Clemente Soto Vélez left Latinos everywhere a legacy that contributed enormously to our social, cultural and economic lives.

Born January 4, 1905 in Lares, Puerto Rico, Clemente was orphaned at the age of seven. At an early age he began to study painting, electrical engineering and business administration. It was in San Juan during his early youth that he had the opportunity to meet poets Alfredo Margenat and Pedro Carrasquillo, whom together would find the vanguard literary group “El Atalaya de los Dioses” (The Watchtower of the Gods). Joined by several other young talented poets, the group attempted to create a connection between the poetic/literary world and politics at a time when the Nationalist Party of Puerto Rico (Nacionalista de Puerto Rico) was emerging. His involvement in the party led his arrest in 1936, on conspiracy charges, for a period of seven years. Although, he was released in 1940(served prison time in Atlanta, Georgia) he was quickly arrested for violating the conditions of his release.

In 1942, he was once again released but was restricted from returning to Puerto Rico so he settled in New York City. He quickly became politically active, directing the Puerto Rican Merchants Association, Inc. throughout the 1970's and organizing numerous literary and cultural events.

Clemente's literary works span a lifetime. Many of his early writings were published in newspapers and periodicals. His first writings were published in 1937 by friends due to his incarceration. In 1954, his first book of poetry entitled 'Abrazo Interno' was published.

Clemente served as a mentor to young artists, musicians and writers who revered him. He continued both his journalistic work and poetry and was invited to many seminars and conferences. One of his most ardent supporters and promoter of his work was his second wife, Amanda Andrea Vélez, a political activist in Argentina and a member of the Partido Socialista de Argentina. Clemente Soto Vélez died in Puerto Rico on April 15, 1993.

Full info from:
Center for Puerto Rican Studies (Centro de Estudios Puertorriqueños):

  1. Guide to the Clemente Soto Vélez and Amanda Vélez Papers
  2. The Life & Times of Clemente Soto Vélez

Estos Árboles / These Trees

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