Mercedes Negrón Muñoz, better known by her pseudonym, Clara Lair, was one of the most important Puerto Rican poets of the 20th century. She was part of Generación del Treinta (1930’s generation). Her lyric was of intimate style and the topics she worked with were love, eroticism, women, and death.
Lair was born in 1895 in Barranquitas, to a family of writers, poets, and politicians. She is the daughter of the poet Quintín Negrón and niece of Luis Muñoz Rivera, prominent Puerto Rican poet and politician. She went to elementary school in her native town, high school in Ponce, and completed her university studies at the University of Puerto Rico. In 1932, she migrated with her family to New York, where she worked as an office clerk. After returning to Puerto Rico, she worked as poet and journalist, and later on, as librarian at the Carnegie Library in San Juan. She was also resident writer at the University of Puerto Rico.
Between 1916 and 1917, Clara Lair published a series of essays on women’s rights. Her first collection of poems, Arras de cristal, was published in 1937 using the pseudonym of Clara Lair. Later, she published Trópico amargo (Bitter Tropics) and Más allá del poniente (Beyond the West, 1950), collections of poems that were awarded prized by the Institute of Puerto Rican Literature. A selection of poems was published by the Institute of Puerto Rican Culture in 1961, which included illustrations by Puerto Rican painter Alfonso Arana.
Clara Lair’s lyric —like that of other female Puerto Rican and Latin American poets of the 20th century such as Julia de Burgos, Gabriela Mistral, and Juana Ibarbourou— shows a reflection about being a woman and the different aspects of love expressions. Her lyric is mature, lacking in vulgar expressions and the frivolousness with which many others wrote about eroticism. Among her most distinguished poems are “Pardo Adonis”, “Credo”, “Frivolidad” and “Lullaby Mayor”.
Clara Lair died in San Juan in 1973.
Guía para jóvenes y adolescentes sobre Una Pasión Llamada Clara Lair, Fundación Puertorriqueña de las Humanidades.
Gran Enciclopedia de Puerto Rico
Author: Grupo Editorial EPRL
Published: September 15, 2014.
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