Born in Santa Marta, on the Caribbean coast, Díaz Granados, a poet, novelist and cultural journalist, has been one of the main promoters of the “Generación sin nombre”, a group of Colombian poets born in the 1940s. He has written literary criticism for the press and appeared on television, and is a professor of literature at two universities in Bogotá. He has published eight books of poetry, including a book of selected poems, La fiesta perpetua. Obra poética, 1962–2002 (2003), as well as six novels; four children’s books and an essay on Pablo Neruda.
José Luis Díaz Granados has taught me that “many people, under the pretext that they are only interested in literature, conceal their desire for many things that skirt literature: fame, showing off, prestige, the corridors of power and all the rest. Well, all of that is not literature.” I find him to be a wise man and a knowledgeable teacher. I openly bow before everyone of his assertions, and he teaches me more than a swarm of academics ever could.
José Luis also taught me to mistrust the easy musical phrase and to search for the frankness of common speech. He did not teach me what to put in a poem, but what to exclude, what to elide. He taught me to be different. Few poets in Colombia have the stylistic mobility of Díaz Granados. His capacity to change is impressive. His register moves between the novel and the poem, the poem and myth, the modernist sonnet, the vanguardist aphorism, and a verbal experiment like Algarobiónica, a long poem praised by the Cuban masters Fina García Marruz and Cintio Vitier.
For Díaz Granados, reality is a void: he reduces it to the essential words, the dry splinters. This reduction, this self-dispossession, allows one to notice the shape of what flutters or whirls. I think at this point about the tremendous metaphor of Kant: that dove that wants to fly without air is anguished on finding that air restrains it; however, without air it could not fly.
Imagination, Díaz Granados shows us ad nauseum, is the faculty thanks to which we import the unreal into the real. While Descartes maintains the efficacy of reason, Pascal talks about its limits; while Descartes proves the existence of God, Pascal deems it undemonstrable. Descartes builds a certainty without fissures; Pascal writes, “We long for truth and find in ourselves only uncertainty.” It is for this reason that the poem for José Luis is a continuous uplifting of the senses. There is no certainty whatever in the world. This short “lyrical meditation” of his which follows seems to confirm it.
Everything I look at,
touch and feel
if I want it so.
His theme is knowledge. The mystery is not “how to represent” but “how to know”. The task of the beholder is to discover how to give an ontological foundation through the clarity of his or her sight. Eternity exists wherever we are capable of naming, that is to say, creating a form. What counts for José Luis is the happiness felt in the act of writing: La fiesta perpetua (The Perpetual Feast). What happens afterward to the poem is contingent.
El laberinto, Colección Tupa Amaru, 3, Bogotá, 1984; Ediciones Esquina, Bogotá, 2000 (definitive edition)
Cantoral, Ediciones Consigna-Dos Mundos, Bogotá, 1992
Poesía dispersa, DOM Edita, Bogotá, 1994
Rapsodia del caminante (anthology), Altazor Editores, Bogotá, 1996
Oficio terrenal, Ediciones Vox Populi, Bogotá, 1998
El libro de las visiones (published by the author), Havana, Cuba, 2000
La fiesta perpetua, Obra poética 1962-2002, Colección “Poetas del Caribe,” Universidad del Magdalena, Santa Marta, Colombia, 2003
Colombia ausente, Ediciones San Librario, Bogotá, 2004
Las puertas del infierno, Editorial Oveja Negra, Bogotá, 1986
El muro y las palabra, Gráficas Olímpica, Bogotá, 1986
El esplendor del silencio, Editorial Famas y Cronopios, 1997
Ómphalos, Ediciones Tritón, Havana, Cuba, 2003
La noche anterior al otoño, Ediciones Tritón, Havana Cuba, 2005
Los años extraviados, Editorial Planeta, Bogotá, 2006
El otro Pablo Neruda, Editorial Planeta, Bogotá 2004
Juegos y versos diversos, Editorial Norma, Bogotá, 1998
Cuentos y leyendas de Colombia, Editorial Norma, Bogotá, 1999
El diluvio inolvidable, Editorial Norma, Bogotá, 2007
Article by José Luis Díaz Granados, ‘Poetas y novelistas rechazados’
Article by José Luis Díaz Granados ‘Escritores, complejos y paranoias’
Interview by Ricardo Rondón Ch.
Review by Luis Toledo Sande
Article by Federico Díaz Granados