Hispanic Heritage Month:
September 28, 2013
Name: Gabriela Mistral
Occupation: Poet, educator, diplomat and first Latin-American to win the Nobel Prize in literature.
Birth, death: April 7, 1889-Jan. 10, 1957
Birthplace: Vicuña, Chile
Chilean poet Gabriela Mistral became the first Latin American to win the Nobel Prize in Literature, in 1945. Her affair with poetry began as a village schoolteacher after a romance with a railway employee who committed suicide. Through her poetry she defended those in society who were most mistreated: children, women, Native Americans, Jews, war victims, workers and the poor, according to the Poetry Foundation.
She also played an important role in the educational systems of Mexico and Chile, and was active in cultural committees of the League of Nations in the 1930s dedicated to promoting worldwide understanding. She donated the royalties of her third book of poems to aid children victimized by the ravages of the Spanish Civil War, according to the Santa Barbara Independent.
After World War II, she worked with the United Nations and helped establish UNICEF.
Mistral taught Spanish literature in the U.S. at Columbia University, Middlebury College and Vassar College, as well as the University of Puerto Rico, according to NobelPrize.org.
Although she died in Long Island, her body was flown back to her native country via a military plane and she received the funeral honors of a national hero.
Her tomb, a minimal rock amid the majestic mountains of her valley of birth, is a place of pilgrimage for many people who have discovered in her poetry the strength of a religious, spiritual life dominated by a passionate love for all of creation, wrote Santiago Daydí-Tolson from the University of Texas at San Antonio.