Alfredo Matilla Rivas was born in Valencia, Spain, in 1937 during the Spanish Civil War. Because of the political situation in his country, his family left Spain and settled in Puerto Rico, where he grew up as a child. He completed his undergraduate studies at the University of Puerto Rico. In the early 1960s, he enrolled at New York University, where he earned a masters degree and a doctoral degree in Hispanic Literature.
When he completed his graduate studies in 1967, he remained in New York, where he began to teach classes at several schools: Long Island University, Vassar College, Goucher College and Brooklyn College. In 1972, he joined the faculty of the American Studies Department at the State University of New York in Buffalo. There, he helped create a graduate program in Puerto Rican Studies, which he also directed. The foundation of the program reflected the spirit of social struggle and the ethnic revitalization of the era, which translated into, among other things, the creation of ethnological studies programs.
In literature, he published two books of poetry, titled Yo no soy novia de nadie (1973) and Catálogo de locos (1978). In his verses, he used a prosaic tone to describe both the social and political conditions of Puerto Ricans. In 1999, his historical chronicle El españolito y el espía was issued. He also translated into Spanish the poems and writings by Pedro Pietri that appeared in Puerto Rican Obituary = Obituario puertorriqueño (1977), Lost in the Museum of Natural History = Perdido en el museo de Historia Natural (1981) and The masses are asses = las masas son crasas (1997), all bilingual editions.
He also edited and wrote prologues for various works, including The Puerto Rican Poets (1972), in collaboration with Iván Silén; Gustavo Palés Matos: obras (1986); Illusions of a revolving door: plays by Pedro Pietri (1992); De música (1992) and De teatro (1993), collections of journalistic articles published by his father, musician and writer Alfredo Matilla Jimeno, in the newspaper El Mundo between 1946 and 1960.
His commitment to the Latino community in general in the United States led him to join the Committee for Hispanic Affairs for the State of New York, the Western New York Hispanic Arts Advisory Council and the Latin Artists Coalition, of which he was also a cofounder. He also spoke about Puerto Rican culture and literature in the prison at Attica and was one of the instructors in the American Studies program at the prison in Auburn, both located in New York State.
After retiring from the university in Buffalo in 1995, he returned with his family to Puerto Rico, where he taught classes at the University of Puerto Rico in Río Piedras until his death in 2001.
Autor: Grupo Editorial EPRL
Published: February 19, 2010.