Claudia Lars was a Salvadoran poet and was one of the most outstanding female voices of Latin American poetry in the 20th century. She was talented from childhood and drew early inspiration from the ancient and classical Spanish as well as the romantic English literature. A gifted artist, her first booklet of poetry was published when she was only 17 years old, courtesy General Juan José Cañas, one of her early mentors. After completing her education, she fell in love with another poet but the relationship was short-lived as her father made her migrate to the United States. Upon reaching America, she soon got married and started working as a Spanish teacher. Later, she returned to her homeland with her spouse and upon her return, she was highly influenced by the company of many contemporary poets and writers. In this new environment, her poetry flowed again with spontaneity and ease which resulted in her first lyrical delivery titled ‘Stars in the Well’. It was followed by many other poetry collections which received much appreciation from critics and readers. Gradually, she rose to prominence in the world of Salvadoran literature through the quality of her poetry and was subsequently bestowed with numerous awards for her notable works. Transparent, simple, and marked with a remarkable formal knowledge of verse, her poetry mesmerized the readers and made her one of the most celebrated female poets of her times
Childhood & Early Life
Claudia Lars was born as Margarita del Carmen Brannon Vega on December 20, 1899, in the city of Armenia, El Savador, to Peter Patrick Brannon, an American engineer, and his wife, Carmen Brannon Vega Zelayandía.
She received her early education at home and was later enrolled at the Colegio La Asunción de Santa Ana in her teenage years.
At the age of 17, her collection of brief poems titled ‘Triste Mirajes’ was published by General Juan José Cañas, a poet and one of her first mentors.
In 1919, she fell in love with Salomón de la Selva, a Nicaraguan poet. But her father did not approve of this relationship and ended it by sending Claudia to the United States of America.
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After moving to United States, she got married and settled with her husband in New York City. She took up a job as a Spanish Teacher at the famous Berlitz School in Brooklyn.
In 1927, Claudia Lars returned to her roots, El Salvador, with her husband and soon became acquainted with other poets and writers in El Salvador such as Salarrué, Alberto Guerra Trigueros, and Alberto Masferrer.
In 1933, she adopted a pen name, Claudia Lars, and the following year, she published her first book of poetry titled ‘Stars in the Well’.
In 1941, she came up with her poetic work titled ‘Sonnets of Michael’ which was followed by ‘The Glass House’ (1942) and ‘Romances of North and South’ (1946).
In 1947, Claudia Lars published her poetry collection ‘City under my Voice’ which won the first prize in the “contest Memorial of the IV centenary of the title of city of San Salvador", organized by the City Council of San Salvador.
Later, she took up the post of cultural attaché to the Embassy of El Salvador in Guatemala.
After moving to Canada, she served at the editorial department of the Ministry of Culture where she was appointed the head of the Culture magazine. Some of her books published during this time include: ‘Where the Steps Arrive’ (1953), ‘School of birds’ (1955), ‘Tale of a truth’ (1959) and ‘Land of Childhood’ (1959).
Her repertoire of works also include: ‘Presencia en el Tiempo’ (1960), ‘Girasol’ (1961), ‘Sobre el Angel y el Hombre’ (1962), ‘Del fino Amanecer’ (1964), ‘Nuestro Pulsante Mundo’ (1969), and ‘Poesía Última’ (1972).
In 1975, the University of El Salvador published her final and previously unpublished poems, in a volume titled ‘Last Poems’. During her long and illustrious career as a poet, she published 19 books of poetry and a memoir.
Her 1955 collection of poems ‘School of birds’ is considered to be one of her most notable works. It is a text with which she approached child readers without abandoning the lyrical genre.
Another one of her most accomplished works was the 1962 poetry collection ‘About the Angel & Man’, which won her the second prize in a National Contest.
Awards & Achievements
Claudia Lars received a Degree Honoris Causa from the Universidad Centroamericana Jose Simeon Cañas. She was also presented with the Order of José Matías Delgado.
In 1965, she shared the first prize at the Floral Games in Quetzaltenango for her poetry collection titled ‘Of a Fine Dawn’.
Personal Life & Legacy
In the United States, she met Leroy F. Beers Kuehn, who later became her first husband. In 1927, she returned to her homeland with Leroy after he was appointed the United States consul in El Salvador. The same year, she became a mother to her only son, Roy Beers Brannon.
In 1948, she went to Guatemala where she met Carlos Samayoa Chinchilla, whom she married later on. This marriage ended in a divorce in 1967.
Claudia Lars died on July 22, 1974, in San Salvador.