Muna Lee (writer)
Muna Lee (January 29, 1895 – April 3, 1965) was an American poet, author, and activist, who first became known and widely published as a lyric poet in the early 20th century. She also was known for her writings that promoted Pan-Americanism and feminism. She translated and published in Poetry a 1925 landmark anthology of Latin American poets, and continued to translate from poetry in Spanish.
A long-term resident of Puerto Rico from 1920 to her death 45 years later, she was an activist in the 1920s and 1930s, working on issues of women's suffrage and equal rights in Puerto Rico and Latin America. Lee worked for more than two decades in cultural affairs for the United States State Department, promoting artistic and literature exchanges between Latin America and the US, as well as other countries.
"Cultural Interchanges between the Americas" (1929) Edit
In A Pan-American Life: Selected Poetry and Prose of Muna Lee, edited and with biography by Jonathan Cohen
- The lack of understanding that comes from actual ignorance is notorious. Most North Americans know nothing even of Puerto Rico, which has been under the Stars and Stripes for thirty years; so it is hardly surprising that they are apt to confuse Uruguay with Uganda.
- Science of course is the great international bond.
- Translators, again-the most abused and patient lot of folk on earth-are helpful in making us better acquainted; though we hope the time will soon come when citizens of the twenty-one republics will no longer need translators. There is no reason for our not speaking each other's language.
- Puerto Rico is Spanish American in its past, Anglo-Saxon in its present, and, I trust, in the deepest sense Pan-American in its future
Quotes about Muna Lee Edit
- What I keep thinking is: why didn't I know about you? I have needed you and I didn't know. I grew up in the Puerto Rican independence movement, in a home full of books, speaking English and knowing other families who did, pacifists, university people, circles you would have moved through. I am a poet, a translator, a feminist historian studying women's resistance, women's voices, and I never heard that Luis Muñoz Marín had a first wife, far less one like you...The world is full of opportunities to be of use, but I believe with you that poetry has a special power to reconnect our severed bonds, and I will practice it, because for myself and also for the world, you have reminded me that poetry is bread.
- Aurora Levins Morales, from the Forward to A Pan-American Life: Selected Poetry and Prose of Muna Lee, Edited and with biography by Jonathan Cohen