Poet, writer, professor and journalist who was part of the 1960s literary generation. She was part of a group of writers who, based on the women’s liberation movement, redefined what it meant to be a woman and women’s social and intimate spaces. Using directness and daily language, she addressed such varied topics as social problems, the decadence of the bourgeoisie, consumerism and experiences of sensuality and love, among others.
Olga Nolla Ramírez de Arellano was born September 18, 1938, in Río Piedras. She went to high school in Mayagüez and continued her studies at the university level at Manhattanville College in New York, where she completed a bachelor’s degree in Natural Sciences with a specialization in Biological Sciences in 1960. Because of her love for literature, however, and with the support of her cousin and fellow writer Rosario Ferré, she earned a master’s degree in Spanish Studies at the University of Puerto Rico’s Río Piedras campus in 1967.
In 1972, along with Rosario Ferré, she launched the publication of the literary magazine Zona de Carga y Descarga, which was in circulation until 1975. She contributed to the magazine as a poet, narrative prose author and literary critic. She published her first book of poems, De lo familiar (1973), in which she denounced the social and spiritual chaos prevailing in society and among individual Puerto Ricans. It was followed by El sombrero de plata (1974) and El ojo de la tormenta (1975), which repudiated the values of the island’s bourgeois class. In Clave de sol (1977), she turned inward to a more intimate self and extolled expressions of sentiment and sensual joy.
She also wrote for various newspapers on the island such as Claridad, El Mundo and El Nuevo Día. Her work was published in various magazines, such as Mairena, Sin nombre, Caribán and the Metropolitan University of Cupey’s (UMET) magazine Cupey, which she edited from 1987 to 1997. At UMET, she worked as a scriptwriter for the Center for Televised Studies – today known as Distance Education Services — and as a professor of Spanish and the Humanities. She also served as editor of the magazine Palabra de mujer, the publication of the Federation of Puerto Rican Women, to which she belonged from 1976 to 1977.
Nolla began writing short stories with “Besitos de coco,” which was first published in Zona de Carga y Descarga in 1973 and “En esta casa no puede haber polvo,” which was part of the anthology by the magazine Sin nombre that was dedicated to Puerto Rican short stories in 1975. Both stories expose the decadence of the island bourgeoisie. The story “La princesa y el juglar” appeared in her book of poems Clave de Sol (1977), and although it was written in the style of children’s literature, it allegorically described the situation of women in Puerto Rico in the 1970s. In 1989, she published her only book of short stories, titled Porque nos queremos tanto.
She returned to the genre of poetry with the publication of Dafne en el mes de marzo, also in 1989. It was followed by the poetry books Dulce hombre prohibido (1994), El caballero del yip colorado (2000) and únicamente mío (2000), winner of the 2000 Jaime Sabines International Poetry Prize.
In 1992, her first novel was released with the publication of La segunda hija, which won first prize in the novel category from the PEN Club of Puerto Rico in 1994. The novel was the subject of controversy in the Puerto Rico Department of Public Education because of its open treatment of sexuality among adolescents. She later published the novels El castillo de la memoria (1996) and El manuscrito de Miramar (1998).
Olga Nolla died in New York on July 30, 2001. Her novel, Rosas de Papel (2002), was published posthumously.
Rivera de Alvarez, Josefina. Literatura puertorriqueña, su proceso en el tiempo. Madrid: Ediciones Panteón, 1983.
Gran Enciclopedia de Puerto Rico
Author: Grupo Editorial EPRL
Published: September 16, 2014.
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