On this day we celebrate Lucila de María del Perpetuo Socorro Godoy Alcayaga, or as everyone knows her, Gabriela Mistral, who received one of the most important literature awards; the Nobel Prize. This event made her not only the first Chilean poet to received it, but also the first Latin American woman in being recognised by the Swedish Academy.
Mistral was a dedicated teacher, but after winning first place in the “Juegos Florales” contest in 1914, which was organized by the Universidad de Chile Students Federation, her life changed. She started being recognised as an artist, both in Chile and abroad.
Travelling through the country and the world, she studied different teaching methods while working on schools and several institutions; but never left her literary career behind. She spent great part of her life between America and Europe, reaching diplomatic positions in different countries, such as Switzerland, Brazil and the United States.
It was while she was acting as consul in Petrópolis, Brazil, that she received the news of this recognition. According to the academy, the artist was awarded “for her lyric poetry which, inspired by powerful emotions, has made her name a symbol of the idealistic aspirations of the entire Latin American world”. On December 10, she officially received the Nobel Prize, with a speech filled with recognition to her Latin American peers and the work they do while writing about different cultures and folklore.
Without a doubt, Gabriela Mistral was one of the most talented artists of our country, setting a timeline for several poets, but she was also an advocate of the Latin American culture, education, indigenous cultures, women and labour rights. Today we not only remember a great poet, but also a woman who stood for human rights.
This post is also available in Spanish