NYS Writers Institute, September 16, 1998
Cardenal was born on January 20, 1925 in Grenada, Nicaragua. He studied in Mexico and at Columbia University in the U.S., and with Thomas Merton at a Trappist monastery in Kentucky in 1957. Nicaraguan dictactor Anastasio Somoza declared Cardenal an outlaw in 1957 for his support of the Sandinista movement. In 1965, he was ordained a priest and founded a Christian commune, Solentiname. During the revolution, Cardenal served as a field chaplain for the FSLN. After the Triumph, he served as Minister of Culture from 1979 to 1988 and promoted literary workshops throughout Nicaragua. At present he is the Vice President of Casa de Las Tres Mundos, a literary and cultural organization based in Managua.
"Priest and Nicaraguan revolutionary as well as poet, Cardenal epitomizes what makes literature live in Central America today." - Booklist
"(Cardenal is). . .one of the world's major poets." - Choice
"Ernesto Cardenal is a major epic-historical poet, in the grand lineage of Central American prophet Ruben Dario. In Cosmic Canticle, he interweaves brilliant political-economic chronicle with panoramic spiritual information, updating post-Poudian verse for late 20th Century narration of the Americas' last half-millennium." - Allen Ginsberg
"Cosmic Canticle is a towering piece of work, a quite extraordinary achievement." - Harold Pinter
"Ernesto Cardenal continues the tradition of Pablo Neruda, who said, 'all the pure poets will fall on their face in the snow.' Cardenal's poetry is impure, defiantly, in that it unites political ugliness and the beauty of imaginative vision." - Robert Bly
"Cardenal's work has always focused on the 'democratization of culture' and in (Flights of Victory) we see his love of people, language, and country." - Library Journal