Monday, March 8, 2021




 By Gioconda Belli

Translated by Steven F White

If you are a strong woman
protect yourself from the beasts who seek
to feed off your heart.
They use all the disguises of earth's carnival:
they dress up as guilt, as opportunities,
as the price that needs to be paid.
They dig up your soul, drill down with their
looks and cries
into the deepest magma of your essence,
not to partake of your fire
but to extinguish the passion
and erudition of your dreams.

If you're a strong woman
you have to know that the air that nourishes
also brings parasites and blowflies,
little insects that seek to lodge in your blood
and feed off what's solid and great in you.
Do not lose your empathy, but fear what
leads you
to swallow your tongue, to hide who you are,
what forces you to submit
and promises you heaven on earth in
for a complacent smile.

If you're a strong woman
be prepared for the battle:
learn to be alone
to sleep in absolute darkness without fear.
know that no one will throw you a rope in
the storm.
Learn to swim upstream.
Educate yourself in the occupation of
thinking and intellect.
Read, make love with yourself, build your
surround in with deep trenches
but make wide your doors and your
it is necessary that you cultivate great
that those who love you know who you are.
Make a circle of bonfires and in the centre of
your room
Light a fire that burns eternal and keeps your
dreams alive.
If you are a strong woman,
protect yourself with words and trees
and invoke the memory of ancient women.
Let it known that you are a magnetic field
towards which will fly rusty nails
and the deadly oxide of all shipwrecks.
Protect all, but protect yourself first.
Keep your distance.
Build yourself. Take care of yourself.
Enjoy your power.
Guard it.
Do it for yourself.
I'm asking you in the name of all of us.

Gioconda Belli is one of Nicaragua’s major political and intellectual voices, as well as one of the most important living poets of Latin America. Belli has also stood out for her fantastic novels, which have been bestsellers in different countries around the world. 

The literature of Gioconda Belli is characterized on the one hand by the theme of feminism and eroticism and, on the other, its political activism. Her profound commitment to the revolutionary ideal of working together to create a fairer society is unquestionably at the heart of her writing, both poetry and fiction. Belli has been a woman sensitive to social injustices, defender and promoter of women’s rights in the Latin America region.

I couldn’t think of a better poem to celebrate 2021 International Women’s day that urges women to take custody of themselves. As she said in an interview:“ I have been two women and I have lived two lives. One of the two woman wanted to do everything expected of a woman in society: marry, have children, bring up a family, be submissive and eager to please. The other aspired all the masculine privileges: independence, being seen as you are, having a public life, having the opportunity to move around, to love. I spent most of my life trying to be a balance of both of these women, uniting their strengths, so as to not be torn apart by their battles with bites and scratches. I think I finally managed to be both women existing within the same body. Without giving up feeling like a woman, I managed to be a man too.”


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