Tag Archives: Gioconda Belli

A Night with Gioconda Belli

Renowned Nicaraguan writer and political figure, Gioconda Belli, spoke to a captivated crowd of over 120 attendees at a March 20 event hosted by the Benson Latin American Collection. The occasion served not only as a platform for Belli to share her remarkable journey but also to celebrate the acquisition of her archive by the Benson Latin American Collection.

Born in Managua, Belli grew up amidst the political upheaval of the Somoza dictatorship. Educated both in Nicaragua and abroad, she studied in Europe and the United States before initially pursuing a career in advertising, later shifting her focus to revolutionary politics.

In 1970, Belli joined the Sandinista National Liberation Front (FSLN), a leftist guerrilla organization opposing the Somoza regime, where she served as a clandestine courier, transported weapons, and travelled around Europe and Latin America obtaining resources and raising awareness of the Sandinista struggle.

Belli’s literary works artfully merge fiction and autobiography, drawing from her experiences as a revolutionary and a woman. Themes of love, desire, politics, and social change permeate her writing, notably exemplified in her renowned novel “The Inhabited Woman” (La mujer habitada, 1988).

Belli’s talk at the Benson delved into her experiences as a Sandinista and how these pivotal moments, intertwined with her personal life, have shaped her identity as a writer. The event provided Belli an opportunity to reflect on the preservation of her legacy at the Benson, and the importance of maintaining a historical accounting.

Attendees were treated to a recital of her poetry during her talk, and her compelling narrative resonated deeply with the audience, sparking thoughtful questions during the Q&A session that followed with director of the Teresa Lozano Long Institute of Latin American Studies (LLILAS) Adela Pineda.

Despite being exiled by the government of Daniel Ortega in 2022, Belli remains actively engaged in social and political advocacy, championing women’s rights and democratic reforms in Nicaragua and beyond. Continuously writing and participating in public discourse, she uses her platform to amplify marginalized voices and advocate for social justice.

The event not only served as a tribute to Gioconda Belli’s contributions to literature and politics but also highlighted the importance of preserving her legacy through the acquisition of her archive by the Benson Latin American Collection.

Read an interview with Gioconda Belli by Benson Director Melissa Guy, which appeared in a recent edition of Portal.

Archive of Prominent Nicaraguan Writer and Political Figure Gioconda Belli Comes to Texas

AUSTIN, Texas—The Nettie Lee Benson Latin American Collection at The University of Texas at Austin has acquired the archive of prominent Nicaraguan writer and activist Gioconda Belli.

The acclaimed author of nine novels, a memoir, two volumes of essays, nine poetry collections and four children’s books, Belli is the recipient of several major literary prizes over her decades-long career, including the prestigious Casa de las Américas Prize for poetry (1978) and the Reina Sofía de Ibero-American Poetry Prize (2023).

Known for her feminist writing and erotic poetry, Belli has a broad international following, with works translated into at least 20 languages. The English translation of her memoir, The Country under My Skin, was a finalist for a Los Angeles Times book prize. 

A woman in her sixties with light brown wavy hair stands at a stone wall at a place where the wall separates. Her hands rest on the parts of the wall beside her on each side. She smiles at the camera. She is wearing a white long-sleeved shirt, black short-sleeved jacket and pants, and a bright red necklace made of two strands of large beads.
Gioconda Belli, photo by Daniel Mordzinski

Belli was among the leaders of the Sandinista National Liberation Front (FSLN), which defeated the regime of Anastasio Somoza Debayle in the Nicaraguan Revolution of 1979, and she worked in support of the Sandinista government until 1993. Amid her increasingly vocal criticism of the Daniel Ortega–Rosario Murillo regime, Belli was forcibly expelled, stripped of her citizenship and declared a traitor to her country in February 2023 along with 93 other Nicaraguans. This is her second exile.

A faded newspaper page from La Prensa Literaria has the name Gioconda Belli at the top in large sans serif capital letters. The page contains various poems and other text. The legend "Poemas y prosemas" appears in large blue serif type in the middle of the page. Along the righthand side of the page there is a large black cartoon illustration of a Classic-age woman who holds a long sword in one hand and, aloft, the severed head of a man, blood dripping from it, in the other.
Newspaper clipping, “Poemas y prosemas,” published in La Prensa Literaria, 1970s. Benson Latin American Collection.

In celebration of her archive’s arrival at the Benson Collection, Belli will visit the campus of The University of Texas at Austin from March 19-22, 2024, for a series of events, including a public lecture.

Belli discussed her work, the contents of her archive and her decision to entrust it to the Benson in an interview with Benson director Melissa Guy. Read the interview in Spanish here or in English translation.

“As a longtime admirer of her literary work and her activism, I am honored that Gioconda has entrusted the Benson with her collection,” Guy said. “We look forward to engaging students and faculty with the archive, and to welcoming Nicaragua’s greatest living poet to Austin in the near future.”


For more information: Susanna Sharpe, Communications Coordinator, LLILAS Benson Latin American Studies and Collections.