Ernesto Cardenal wins poetry prize

Ernesto Cardenal is one of the major Spanish language poets in the world today. On Wednesday, Jan. 19th, 2005, Nicaraguan President Enrique Bolanos presented Cardenal with the Order of Rubén Darío in honor of his service to Nicaragua and to humanity in the fields of art and literature. Cardenal has long recognized the link between art and politics. His poems helped fuel the 1979 Sandinista National Liberation Front led revolution that overthrew the Somoza dictatorship, and when that regime fell he was appointed Minister of Culture in the new Sandinista government.

In the 1980’s, the Reagan administration targeted Sandinista Nicaragua as a major threat to US “national security”, and waged a vicious military campaign to bring down the radical government. Somehow Cardenal obtained a visa allowing him to visit the US during those dark days. He came to my hometown of Los Angeles in the mid-80’s and spoke at LA Valley College in Van Nuys down the street from where I live. Thousands packed the campus auditorium to hear Cardenal give an impassioned hour long reading of his epic poems… an experience that I’ll never forget.

Now that the brutal counter-insurgency wars of Central America are fading into history - even the conservative pro-US president of Nicaragua must recognize Cardenal as one of the world’s eminent artists. Books of poetry by Ernesto Cardenal are available on

Comments are closed.