Spanish poet honors unsung Warsaw Ghetto heroine

Thu May 26, 2011 5:05am EDT
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By Martin Roberts

MADRID (Reuters Life!) - Spain's second-biggest poetry prize has been awarded this year to a volume honoring unsung heroines including Irena Sendler, who saved 2,500 Jewish children by smuggling them out of the Warsaw Ghetto.

Sendler was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize in 2007, a year before her death. She lost to former U.S. Vice President Al Gore and the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

"It is abundantly evident that she could have been a truly deserving recipient of the (Nobel) prize, no question," said Fatima Frutos, winner of the 2011 Kutxa Ciudad de Irun Poetry Prize, ahead of an international field of 204.

"The visibility of such women needs to be vindicated, the ones who have been deemed secondary, who have had no recognition but deserve that and so much more."

Frutos also recalls Artemisia Gentileschi, an eminent Italian 17th-Century painter, and Spanish 19th-Century writer Carolina Coronado, who both struggled to achieve recognition in fields then dominated by men.

In addition, she pays homage, amongst others, to Carl von Weizsaecker, a 20th-Century nuclear physicist who later became a philosopher.

"I start out with the anecdotes and build on them with lyricism and poetry, to vindicate them verse by verse," she said. "It's not just about giving visibility to invisible women, but also to 20th-Century geniuses whose work has yet to shake up 21st-century consciences."

The prize-winning volume "Andromeda Encadenada" (Andromeda Enchained) takes its title from the Greek mythological princess who was chained to a rock, but who Frutos sees as an inspirational figure rather than a victim.   Continued...