Categories: El Salvadorian Notables.
Roque was raised by his mother who was a nurse in a hospital, which was where she had med Roque. They were never married.
Roque graduated from Externado San José, an exclusive Jesuit school for boys in San Salvador. Afterwards he was sent by his father to Santiago in Chile to study law in the Universidad de Chile. There, he established close relationships to Leftist students and attended lectures with the Mexican artist Diego Rivera. Around this time, he developed a great interest in Socialism.
When he returned to El Salvador, he was accepted by the Law School of the Universidad de El Salvador (UES) and in 1955 he and the Guatemalan poet Otto René Castillo founded Círculo Literario Universitario, which published some of Central America's most recognized literary figures.
He spent 1961 in Mexican exile, writing many of the poems that were published in La Ventana en el rostro (“The Window in My Face," 1961) and El turno del ofendido (“The Injured Party’s Turn," 1962). He dedicated the latter book to the Salvadoran police chief who had filed the charges against him.
From Mexico, Dalton naturally gravitated to Cuba, where he was well received by the Cuban and Latin American exiled writers who gathered in the Casa de las Américas. From that point on, starting with La Ventana en el rostro and El Mar (“The Sea”) in 1962, almost all of his poetic work was published in Cuba.
In the summer of 1965, he returned to El Salvador to continue his political work. Two months after his arrival, he was arrested, tortured, and again sentenced to execution. However, he managed to escape death once more when an earthquake shattered the outer wall of his cell, enabling him to dig his way out through the rubble.
He returned to Cuba and a few months later the Communist Party sent him to Prague as a correspondent for The International Review: Problems of Peace and Socialism.
His book Taberna y ostros lugares (“Tavern and Other Places”), reflecting his long stay in Prague, won the Casa de las Américas poetry prize in 1969 and established Roque Dalton, at the age of thirty-four, as one of the best young poets in Latin America. In 1975, a military faction of the Ejército Revolucionario del Pueblo (ERP), unjustly accused him of trying to divide their organization and condemned him to death. They executed him on May 10, 1975, four days before his fortieth birthday.
He passed away in 1975.
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