BORN: July 10, 1902, Camagüey, Cuba
DIED: July 17, 1989, Havana, Cuba
IDENTIFICATION: Cuba's national poet, a writer whose many volumes of verse highlight Afro-Cuban culture and frequently call for social justice.
SIGNIFICANCE: Nicolás Guillén is one of an international group of poets of the African diaspora. He invented son, a poetic form based on Cuban folkloric music, and used it as an artistic means to reaffirm the pride of the black population of Cuba. He was the first writer to create a poetic form that may be considered completely Cuban. Guillén's work also decries the impact of the United States and of colonialism in general on all aspects of Cuban life and life throughout the developing world. His poetry is direct and accessible to the reader. He was active in politics as well as in literature throughout his life.