On Monday, October 3, Hostos Community College honored the works of Puerto Rican poet Julia de Burgos with an afternoon of art and literature hosted in the Longwood Art Gallery @ Hostos.

Held as part of the College’s Hispanic Heritage month celebration, the multifaceted event featured presentations by esteemed guests Chiqui Vicioso, poet, playwright, and essayist; Urayoán Noel, Ph.D., poet; and Alí Francis García, MAG, artist. 

During her opening remarks, President Daisy Cocco De Filippis reflected on de Burgos’ far-reaching and ongoing influence.  

“She lives in the voice of many young men and women in multiple ways, and this is why this is an afternoon of art and literature with Julia de Burgos,” she said. “Some of her works you’re going to hear, but also the works of which she inspired.” 

Hostos lecturer Thelma Ithier-Sterling further set the stage, regaling the audience with performances of four songs ("Hallazgo,” "La Señora Luna,” "La Borinqueña," and “Alfonsina Y El Mar”), and students and staff of the College community honored de Burgos with presentations of her powerful poetry in English and in Spanish.  

Chiqui Vicioso, who published the poetic biography “Julia de Burgos, La Nuestra,” discussed de Burgos’ influence on Puerto Rico, as well as the Dominican Republic and beyond, and read the poem she wrote about the late poet when she first learned of her in the 1970s. She also recited a portion of Pedro Mir’s poem for de Burgos titled “Julia Sin Lagrimas” in Spanish and was joined by Urayoán Noel, who read the poem in English.  

Noel shared two decimas — poems consisting of one four-line stanza followed by four 10-line stanzas— inspired by de Burgos and invited the audience to join him in a call and response “shout out to Julia as a poet of the Bronx.”  Alí Francis García presented several of his incredible visual art pieces inspired by de Burgos. He shared how he collaborated with the poet’s family to collect photos and details about her life, and how he melded them with photos taken in places dear to de Burgos in her beloved Puerto Rico to create reimaginings of her as a “Sirena,” “Cacica,” “Diosa del mar,” and more.  

Together the musical, poetic and artistic reflections of de Burgos’ influence were a beautiful tribute to her life and work.