Blanca Varela

Born in Lima, Peru in 1926, Blanca Varela became associated with a group of intellectuals, artists and writers known as the Generation of 1950. Between 1949 and 1957 she lived in Europe and the United States. In Paris she met the Mexican writer Octavio Paz, and later wrote: ‘Through Paz … I understood and learned that poetry is a daily task, that we don’t choose it, it chooses us. We don’t own it; it owns us. It’s nothing more than reality and at the same time the only and true escape route from reality.’ Varela published her first book of poems, That Port Exists, in 1959, after her return to Peru, and several more collections subsequently. She became a leading figure in Latin American poetry, and received many awards for her work, including the Federico Garcia Lorca International Poetry Prize (the first woman ever to receive it), and the Queen Sophia Prize for Ibero-American Poetry. She died in Lima in 2009.

– from the introduction by Ruth Fainlight in MPT 2/13 Transplants