Work by Chile’s Gabriela Mistral continues to inspire

A newly illustrated collection of the poet’s work receives prize at international book fair, continuing the legacy of Chile’s leading lady.

Far from her native Chile, the words of award-winning poet Gabriela Mistral are being honored for the beauty they continue to inspire almost a century after they were written.

Last week at the Leipzig Book Fair in Germany, four books of the Nobel Prize winning poet’s work were given the “Most Beautiful Book” award by the German chapter of UNESCO  and the German Book Art Foundation. The winning collection, titled “Poesía Ilustrada (Illustrated Poetry)”, includes a series of childrens stories retold through the beautiful lines and imagery Mistral was so well known for.

Among the recreated tales are “La Cenicienta (Cinderella)”, “La Bella Durmiente (Sleeping Beauty)”, “Blancanieves (Snow White)”, and “Caperucita Roja (Little Red Riding hood).”  First published in the 1920s in Colombian newspapers, these stories have found new life thanks to Editorial Amanuta, a Chilean publishing house.

Alongside Mistral’s lines of poetry are illustrations by Chilean based artists Bernardita Ojeda, Carmen Cardemil, Carles Ballesteros and Paloma Valdivia. The carefully crafted images bring a new modern dimension to the words Mistral wrote almost 90 years ago.

“The stories in the collection ‘Poesía Ilustrada’ impressed us, especially for the detail in the illustrations and the lyrical text,” read the competition judges’ decision.

The judges also pointed out the beauty of the artwork being done by the collaborating Chileans, creating a form of “attractive unity” and continuity with the original lines.

The collection was first publish in 2012 and has been gaining attention ever since. Last year the stories took home the 2013 Edition Award by Ilustre Municipalidad de Santiago. Earlier this year they were given an Honorable Mention for the New Horizons Award at the Bologna Children’s Book Fair in Italy, one of the top international events for children’s publishing.

One of Chile’s favorite daughters, Gabriela Mistral was the country’s first poet to ever be awarded the Nobel Prize, which she received in 1945. Known for her words as well as her dedication to diplomacy and education, the famed poet was also a teacher and mentor to Chile’s second Nobel Prize winner Pablo Neruda.

Her legacy can be found throughout her homeland, whether in the halls and buildings dedicated to her, such as the Centro Cultural Gabriela Mistral (GAM) or even on the nation’s 5,000 peso bank note, the poet continues to have a presence both within Chile and abroad.