Mariela Griffor is a Chilean poet, publisher and diplomat. Born in the city of Concepcion in Chile, Mariela grew up in turbulent times as her country transitioned from a democracy under President Salvador Allende to a dictatorship under General Augusto Pinochet. As a young woman, she moved to Santiago, the capital city and enrolled in the Technical University, where she became swept up in the revolutionary climate of those times. After a brief sojourn in Brazil to continue her university studies, she returned to Santiago to join her lover and fiancé, the radical activist Julio Carlos Santibáñez Romera. When agents of the Pinochet government brutally murdered Santibáñez, she was forced to flee with their unborn child to Sweden. After struggling to adjust to her life as a refugee, she successfully learned Swedish and began a teaching career, eventually meeting her future husband, the acclaimed mathematician Edward Griffor. After a brief return to her native Chile, she and her growing family permanently resettled in Grosse Point, Michigan. After completing her university studies in the United States, she published several books of poetry and was hailed as an accomplished writer. She is now involved full-time in the arts, dividing her time between writing new poems and managing an elite publishing house that she co-founded.
Childhood & Early Life
Mariela was born on September 29, 1961 at Concepcion, Chile. She has one sister and spent much of her childhood on her grandfather's enormous ranch.
In high school, she studied French and English and at 19, got enrolled in the Santiago Technical University, majoring in Spanish literature and Journalism.
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Almost immediately after enrolling at the Technical University of Santiago, she became involved with radical student protest organizations.
In 1983, the Manuel Rodriguez Patriotic Front (FPMR) was formed as the armed wing of the Communist Party with her boyfriend Julio Carlos Santibáñez as its leader.
In 1984, she spent seven months in Brazil studying journalism at the Catholic University of Rio de Janeiro.
In 1985, she returned to Santiago to be with Santibáñez and they become engaged to marry after Mariela became pregnant with Santibáñez's child.
In September 1985, Santibáñez was brutally murdered on orders of Pinochet.
Fearing for her life, she was forced to flee to Västerås, Sweden, where she became a refugee for the next 12 years. In April 1986, her daughter Javiena was born.
In 1991, Mariela returned to Chile for the first time since fleeing in 1985.
Mariela met her husband Edward Griffor, an American mathematics professor, while he was teaching at the University of Uppsala in Sweden. In 1992, her daughter Elena was born.
In 1997, she and her family moved to Chile for 10 months.
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In 1998, after much hesitation, Mariela agreed to learn English and moved with her husband and family to Grosse Point, Michigan. In 2002, she was awarded a Master's Degree from Wayne State University.
In 2005, she founded Marick Press.
In 2005, her first book of poetry, 'Exiliana', was published while she published her second book of poetry, 'House' in 2007. In 2010, a third collection of poetry entitled 'Heartland' was published.
In 2012, her poems were translated into French and published under the title 'Ma Demeure Brule'.
In 2013, Mariela's collected poetry works 'The Psychiatrist' and 'Resolana' were published.
Mariela is globally recognized for the moving and evocative passages in her poems, published in five separate volumes.
Awards & Achievements
She was conferred with Journalism Institute Award, Wayne State University in 2002.
Mariela has also been awarded Pablo Neruda 100 Years Anniversary, Chilean Cultural Association of Canberra, 1st Prize (Sydney, Australia) – 2003.
She was selected for Detroit's Urban Writer-in-Residence Program at Wayne State University in 2003.
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She was winner of the Carol and Frank Hennessy award, Grosse Pointe Art Center Poet-in-Residence - 2006
She was the winner of the International Award by Wayne County Council of Arts, History and Humanities in 2007.
Personal Life & Legacy
After her fiance was brutally murdered in 1985, Mariela left Chile and went to Sweden.
She met mathematician Edward Griffor in Sweden and later married him. He husband is one of the world's leading Artificial Intelligence researchers.
Having directly witnessed the brutality of the Pinochet regime in her native Chile, she is a global spokesperson for her homeland and a recognized representative of the fine arts
Mariela first honed her craft by writing pamphlets and tracts for the student revolutionary organizations at the university in Santiago.
'Prologue' is the first poem that she wrote after moving to the United States.
She spent 15 years writing non-fiction before branching out into poetry.
She believes that writing is like 'a dance' between the writer and the audience.
'The Psychiatrist' was written about her student days in Chile.
In 2014, she along with her friends successfully launched a Kickstarter campaign to translate Chilean poet Pablo Neruda's epic poem 'Canto General' into English.
Her daughter Javiena graduated with a degree in Criminal Justice from Wayne State University.
Her favorite book is Don Quixote
She has stated that she wants her poems to make the reader "slow down, think and remember"
It took Mariela three years to learn Swedish.
Her former fiancé Julio's remains are buried in Santiago, Chile, in a crematorium in the general cemetery in grave No. 194, Sector E-5
She is convinced that the CIA is responsible for the death of her fiance Julio