Graciany Miranda Archilla was a poet, journalist and essayist. He was also one of the founders of atalayismo, an avant-garde literary movement that developed in the late 1920s in San Juan.
He was born June 2, 1908, in Morovis, Puerto Rico. His parents were Francisco Miranda, a businessman, and Celsa Archilla, a writer. He attended primary school in Morovis and studied at the secondary level at the Polytechnic Institute in San Germán and the San Ildefonso Council Seminary in San Juan.
He showed an interest in literature from an early age. In 1926, he published Cadena de ensueños, a book of modernist poetry. In 1928, he got to know the poets Clemente Soto Vélez, Alfredo Margenat, Antonio Cruz y Nieves and Fernando González Alberty, with whom he shared a literary affinity. They began to meet under the name “El Hospital de los Sensitivos”. Later, they changed the name of their group to “Atalaya de los Dioses.”
Atalayismo, as a cutting-edge literary movement, sought “to shake the bushes of Puerto Rican literature,” as Miranda Archilla himself described it. The “secret society,” as they called themselves, extended their attitude of originality and dissidence even in the way they dressed. They wore suits of garish colors, strange or out-of-fashion hats, and wore their hair longer and disheveled. They also adopted pseudonyms. Miranda wrote under the pen names “El Mistagogo en Ayunas,” “El Caballero del Limbo” and “El Sumo Pontífice de la Locura.”
The atalayistas aimed to change literary styles by breaking with traditional methods, especially romanticism and modernism, in form, imagery, topics and rhythm. They wrote about a variety of themes, many of them controversial. Miranda Archilla’s poem, “Cristo debió tener un hijo ,” which allowed the group to join the avant-garde literary movements of Latin America, was strongly criticized in the newspaper La Religión of Caracas, the capital city where it was first published.
Miranda Archilla, like the other atalayistas, wrote poetry with political and revolutionary themes that were identified with the separatist ideas of the Puerto Rican Nationalist Party. The group also criticized the classical poets such as Luis Llorens Torres, Eugenio Astol, Trina Padilla de Sanz, and others. They called them “fossils” in their newspaper columns, which led to bitter controversies between the classical poets and the newcomers. Among the poets who joined the atalayistas were Luis Hernández Aquino, Angel Dionisio Trujillo (René Golman), Pedro Carrasquillo, Samuel Lugo, Juan Calderón Escobar, José Joaquín Ribera Chevremont, Carmen Alicia Cadilla and Antonio Cruz y Nieves, among others.
The atalayistas’ writings were published in various newspapers and magazines on the island, such as Gráfico de Puerto Rico, La Linterna, índice, El Diluvio and Armas. Miranda Archilla began editing the avant-garde poetry section in the magazine Alma Latina, founded in 1930. Later, he published a book of poetry titled Responso a mis poemas náufragos (1931), the first publication of the Atalaya de los dioses press that the group created. According to scholar and literary critic Josefina Rivera de álvarez, this book is considered the fundamental poetic work of the atalayistas.
In the following years, Miranda Archilla worked as the editor of the magazine Alma Latina and later as the editor in chief of El Mundo. He also published his poetry in numerous magazines, such as the Revista del Ateneo Puertorriqueño and Puerto Rico Ilustrado. He moved to New York in 1951, where he worked at Diario de Nueva York, which was run by writer Vicente Géigel Polanco. At the same time, he took part in the activities and the political and cultural organizations of the Puerto Rican community in New York, such as the Institute of Puerto Rico, the Authors Circle and Vanguardia Betances.
In addition to the works mentioned above, Graciany Miranda Archilla also published Sí de mi tierra (1937), on local island topics, and El Oro en la Espiga (1941), which won an award from the Institute of Puerto Rican Literature. Both were written before he joined the avant-garde movement, and therefore display modernist characteristics. In these works, he plays with images to reflect on various topics such as love, life and death.
His next published work was Himno a la caballa (1971), which consists of a long, avant-garde poem in which the mythical horse Pegasus sings. It is divided into two parts, “Migajones” and “Cristálidas,” each consisting of twelve fragments. It is characterized by the use of free verse and a combination of short and long verses that creates a varied internal rhythm. The use of language is original and innovative, as the writing is not subject to the rules of grammar and the morphology of the words presents mutations. The poet uses a sophisticated and euphuist vocabulary, which helps develop the chaotically organized images.
“Visita al cero verde” is a long, avant-garde poem that he began to write in 1929 and finished in 1988. It was included in the book Poesía vanguardista 1929-1988: Graciany Miranda Archilla. He also published Hungry Dust = Polvo hambriento (1988), which includes original poems in English and a translation of Orlando José Torres; Matria and Monody with Roses in Ash November (1978); and Camino de la sed (1993).
Graciany Miranda Archilla was honored by the Puerto Rican Association of Writers in New York (1983), the Puerto Rican Heritage House (1989), and the Institute of Puerto Rico in New York (1991).
He died in Puerto Rico in 1993.
By the PROE Editorial Group
Martínez, Jan. “La poesía vanguardista de Graciany Miranda Archilla, ‘El caballero del limbo’”. Poesía vanguardista: 1929-1988: Graciany Miranda Archilla. San Juan, P. R.: Editorial de la Universidad de Puerto Rico, 2002. En línea.
Rivera de Alvarez, Josefina. Literatura puertorriqueña: su proceso en el tiempo. Madrid: Partenón, 1983. Impreso.
Rivera de Alvarez, Josefina. Diccionario de literatura puertorriqueña. 2a ed. Vol 2. San Juan, P. R.: Instituto de Cultura Puertorriqueña, 1974. Impreso.
Author: Grupo Editorial EPRL
Published: September 16, 2014.
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