nys writers logo

Ernesto Cardenal Photo Credit: Mel RosenthalERNESTO CARDENAL

NYS Writers Institute, September 16, 1998
4:00 p.m. Seminar | Humanities 354
8:00 p.m. Reading | Recital Hall, Performing Arts Center


Ernesto Cardenal
is the author of more than 35 books in Spanish, a number of which have been translated into English, including Flights of Victory, Zero Hour, Homage to the American Indians, and With Walker in Nicaragua. He has always considered poetry as a powerful agent for constructive social change and his poetry gives voice to the voiceless, speaking out against oppression. His English translation poetry volumes include Marilyn Monroe and Other Poems (1965), The Psalms of Struggle and Liberation (1967), To Live is to Love (1970), In Cuba (1974), Apocalypse and Other Poems (1977), Nicaraguan New Time (1988), Cosmic Canticle (1993), and The Doubtful Strait (1995). Choice magazine calls Cardenal "one of the world's major poets" who "struggles to convince himself that the underlying force in the universe is divine purpose rather than pure chance. For him, the politics of commitment is essential the poetic discourse, just as love, the ultimate cohesive principle, is necessary to preserve the oneness of creation."

Cosmic CanticleCardenal 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

Additional Links:
Writers Online Magazine Article

For additional information, contact the Writers Institute at 518-442-5620 or online at https://www.albany.edu/writers-inst.