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Blanca Leonor Varela Gonzáles (10 August 1926 – 12 March 2009) was a Peruvian poet. Varela was born in Lima. Her mother was a composer who authored many famous creole waltzes. She studied Humanities and Education at the National University of San Marcos where she met other future writers such as Sebastián Salazar Bondy, Javier Sologuren, Jorge Eduardo Eielson, and her future husband, the artist and sculptor Fernando de Szyszlo with whom she has two children. In 1949 they travelled to Paris where she met Octavio Paz, a key figure in her life, who introduced her to the artists and intellectuals there, such as André Breton, Jean-Paul Sartre, Simone de Beauvoir, Henri Michaux, Alberto Giacometti and Fernand Léger, among others; and also other Latin American authors who lived in France at that time, for example Carlos Martínez Rivas. Paz persuaded her to publish her poetry, and in the preface to the first edition of her debut book Ese puerto existe (1959) he wrote: "At that time we all used to sing. And among those songs you could hear a lonesome song of one Peruvian girl: Blanca Varela. The most secret, timid and natural of them all." Later Varela lived in Florence and Washington, D.C. In 1962 she returned to Lima and since then traveled mainly to US, Spain and France. She was awarded the Medalla de Honor by the Peruvian National Institute of Culture, the Premio Octavio Paz de Poesía y Ensayo (Octavio Paz Prize for poetry and essays), the Premio Internacional de Poesía..
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