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Virginia Brindis de Salas
Born in Montevideo, Uruguay, the daughter of José Salas and María Blanca Rodríguez, little is known about her life; according to Joy Elizondo, she claimed to be the niece of Cuban violinist Claudio Brindis de Salas, though this is unsubstantiated.
Virginia Brindis de Salas actively contributed to the Black artistic journal Nuestra Raza. Her writings made her, along with fellow Afro Uruguayan Pilar Barrios, one of the few published Uruguayan women poets. Brindis de Salas published two collections of poetry. The first, Pregón de Marimorena ("The Call of Mary Morena"), came out in 1946, bringing her a certain amount of recognition.
Chilean Nobel laureate Gabriela Mistral wrote of Brindis de Salas: "Sing, beloved Virginia, you are the only one of your race who represents Uruguay. Your poetry is known in Los Angeles and in the West. I have heard of your recent work through diplomatic friends, and may God grant that this book be the key that opens coffers of luck to the only brave black Uruguayan woman that I know."
In 1949, Brindis de Salas issued Cien Cárceles de Amor ("One Hundred Prisons of Love"), which is divided into four sections that each highlight a different type of African-derived music: "Ballads," "Calls," "Tangos," and "Songs." According to Caroll Mills Young, in both collections, Brindis de Salas "poetically evokes the social and cultural reality of Afro Uruguay. The volumes are intended to promote social change in Uruguay; they exemplify the poet's crusade for solidarity, equality, and dignity." The prologue to Cien Cárceles de Amor Brindis de Salas mentioned a forthcoming third volume entitled Cantos de lejanía ("Songs from Faraway"), but this book was never published.
The country's leading Black woman poet, she is also considered "the most militant among Afro Uruguayan writers". Her poetry addresses the social reality of Black Uruguayans. Virginia Brindis died on April 6, 1958.