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María Arrillaga, poet, novelist, essayist and literary critic, was born and raised in Mayagüez, Puerto Rico. A devotee of the Spanish and English languages, and their cultures, she has spent all her life studying, writing or teaching in one of those two languages.

Her prize-winning work spans over thirty years and has appeared in numerous publications and anthologies in Puerto Rico and abroad.

She earned her bachelors of science at St. Louis University with a major in English in 1961. A perennial scholar, she continued studying at New York University, where she obtained her Master’s Degree in foreign languages five years later, followed in 1987 by a Ph.D., magna cum laude, in Hispanic Studies from the University of Puerto Rico. She also is considered a specialist in gender studies.

Her novel, Mañana Valentina, published jointly by A Room of One’s Own Press, Chile, and the Institute of Puerto Rican Culture, was finalist in the literary contest Letras de Oro, University of Miami, 1994 and in a contest sponsored by the Institute of Latin American Writers, New York, 1996.

Among her poetry collections are: Vida en el tiempo/Life in Time, 1974, (First Prize, Puerto Rican Atheneum, 1972); New York in the Sixties, 1976; Cascada de sol/Cascade of Sun, 1977; Poemas 747/Poems 747, (Honorable Mention, Institute of Puerto Rican Literature, 1977); Frescura/Freshness, 1981, (First Prize, Institute of Puerto Rican Literature, 1981). Yo soy Filí Melé/I Am Filí Melé, 1999, is a compilation of the above collections and includes two unedited ones: El amor es un periódico de ayer/Love Is Yesterday’s Newspaper and Yo soy Filí Melé/I Am Filí Melé, which gives the book its title.

Her books about women’s roles include Concierto de voces insurgentes: tres autoras puertorriqueñas/Concert of Insurgent Voices: Three Puerto Rican Women Authors, Edelmira González Maldonado, Violeta López Suria, Anagilda Garrastegui which was awarded an Honorable Mention by the Institute of Puerto Rican Literature, 1998. She also published Los silencios de María Bibiana Benítez/The Silences of María Bibiana Benítez, Institute of Puerto Rican Culture, 1985.

María Arrillaga was president of PEN Puerto Rican Center, 1989-91, Secretary of the Women Writers’ Committee of PEN International and regional organizer for Latin America, 1993.

She divides her time between Greenwich Village, Manhattan and Old San Juan, Puerto Rico and is currently at work on a book of memoirs: The Guava Orchard.

Her latest collection of poetry: Flamingos en San Juan/Flamingos in Manhattan shall appear soon in a bilingual edition.

Letras Vol.01/2010

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