Born in Havana, Cuba, Mercedes Cortázar currently resides in the United States and is publisher and editor of expoescritores.com, an online magazine and literary and culture portal. She is currently at work on an autobiographical novel and books of short stories and creative nonfiction.
Cortázar began her literary career as one of a group of young poets and writers in Havana, Cuba, who called themselves El Puente (The Bridge). Cortázar’s first book of poetry, El largo canto (The Long Chant), was the third book published by El Puente, and her work was included in El Puente’s first poetry anthology, La novísima poesía cubana (The Newest Cuban Poetry). In response to El Puente’s avant-garde editorial policy, and also because it had published Cortázar’s work after she had gone into exile in the United States, the publishing house was closed by the Cuban Government and its members persecuted.
Cortázar continued to write in New York while laboring in factories, restaurants and at other blue-collar jobs. Her work attracted the attention of Chilean literary critic and translator Servando Sacaluga, a professor of French at Columbia University, who approached her to translate her work into French. This resulted in the publication of Deux Poèmes de Mercedes Cortázar, a biligual Spanish-French edition of El largo canto and her new long poem Tierra (Earth).
With a group of El Puente poets living in New York, Cortázar founded Protesta (Protest), considered to be the first literary magazine of Cuban writers in exile. She later joined with Cuban and Puerto Rican poets in New York to found La nueva sangre (The New Blood), a literary magazine that published Spanish-language writers and poets living in the United States, Latin America and Spain.
Cortázar’s poems, stories, articles, essays and literary criticism in Spanish have since appeared in numerous publications, including Mundo Nuevo (New World), published and edited in Paris by Uruguyan literary critic Emir Rodríguez Monegal, the first critic to describe the Boom in Latin American literature; Mexican literary magazine El corno emplumado (The Plumed Horn); and Spain’s cultural review Turia.
Cortázar’s English-language articles and criticism have appeared in Review, a bi-monthly magazine published by the Center for Inter-American Relations, and elsewhere. Cortázar was poetry consultant for the English translation of José Lezama Lima's novel Paradiso, published by Farrar, Straus & Giroux, and is a past winner of the Cintas Fellowship for Literature.