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Álvaro Miranda
(Colombia, 1945)   
 
 
 
Álvaro Miranda

Alvaro Miranda, a poet, novelist and essayist of great verbal originality, was born in Santa Marta, on the Caribbean coast. He studied philosophy, began to publish his poetry quite young and has had quite an active literary life as a writer, poetry workshop leader, editor of two literary magazines and a publisher of poetry books. In the 1960s his poetry was first included in the collected works of the so-called ‘nameless’ generation. Among his books of poetry, Los escritos de don Sancho Jimeno stands out , it received an important award and is written humorously in a rich archaic Spanish mixed with colloquial speech, for which he has a fine ear.

The poetry of Alvaro Miranda is imbued with profound reflections on Caribbean society and the creative process. He reconstructs Caribbean history from a genuine post-modern perspective that has its origins in a deep observation of its realities. He is concerned with the meaning of the Caribbean and its European heritage for Colombians, and in this inquiry he displays a multidimensional focus. Miranda’s poetry is therefore polyphonic and open to dialogue. His poetry contains echoes of the different voices that make up the colorful mixture of cultures in the Caribbean.

Each of his poetry collections constitutes a phase in this reflection, an attempt to answer the questions raised by this rich culture. Tropicomaquia is a description of the tropics in all its elements, especially the most common and simple. “You … who are aware of being witch, herb, ointment and pomade on the wounds of Indians … like a mosquito in the ear, like a death dead of natural death.” Because of this, the prosaic (as opposed to the sublime) prevails in Miranda’s poetry, and this is also the reason he dismisses Breton as epitomizing a poetry that veers away from reality and does not treat it as a direct concern.

Like Walcott in the Caribbean islands, Miranda, from his first book of poetry onwards, has broken with the forms of Western poetry in order to build a totally different structure of verse. He does not play at altering the rules of poetry, he creates new rules; rules that flow from the structure of the reality he attempts to recreate. His poetry, like the society in which he lives, is a super-syncretism of forms. The boundaries of the lyric genre are completely blurred: prosaic verse in its different incarnations, is combined with lyric verse in an entropic manner:

A stream of messianic stars announced the coming of the plague.
Not the perfume of the pineapple
Nor the aroma of mint
Or the essence of medlar

In Omeros by Walcott we discover a lyric poem which is at the same time an epic poem and a fictional account. In Simulación del reino — Miranda’s collected poems which include many published in magazines and collective works — we find a poetry which is at the same time historical account, chronicle of the Indies and the Colonial period, and epistle. They both create new artistic standards.

Perhaps Argentine poet Enrique Molina has best encapsulated his style. Writing about Los escritos de don Sancho Jimeno, he says: “[It is] above all a book of great originality, which emphasizes the use of a Spanish of ancient chronicles. The poet handles a parodic language with humor, expressive force and great vital content, and at the same time he inserts contemporary elements, which give the book a special sense… Miranda plays with an apparently archaic language but which, in contrast with the situations he describes, produces a vision charged with humor, a distorted vision of reality, which expresses the breaking off and uncertainty of modern man faced with a reality full of contradictions, alienating and, at times, absolutely devoid of sense.”

© Amilkar Caballero de la Hoz (Translated by Nicolás Suescún)

Bibliography
Poetry

Indiada, Episfre, Bogotá, 1971.
Los escritos de don Sancho Jimeno, Universidad de Antioquia, Medellín, 1982. 
Simulación de un reino
(Obra poética 1966-1995), Thomas de Quincey Editores, Bogotá, 1995

Fiction
La risa del cuervo, Thomas de Quincey Editores, Bogotá 1992.
San Juan de la Cruz: un cadáver para armar, (to be published in 2007), Intermedio Editores, Bogotá.

Essays
Colombia la senda dorada del trigo, Thomas de Quincey Editores, Bogotá 2000
León de Greiff en el país de Bolombolo, Editorial Panamericana, Bogotá, 2004.
Gregorio Vásquez de Arce y Ceballos: un pintor para mirar el arte colonial, Banco de la República, Bogotá 2005.
Andrés de Santamaría en la universal expresión del color, Banco de la República, Bogotá, 2006.
San Juan de la Cruz: un cadáver para armar, Intermedio Editores, Bogotá. 

Links
Page of the International Poetry Festival of Medellin:  (Three poems and a short biography).

Magazine Memorias, digital magazine of history and archaeology from Universidad del Norte, Colombia. Article by Álvaro Miranda on Ramón Vinyes.

Internet page of the Banco de la República :  Essay by Álvaro Miranda on painter Andrés Santa María.

Internet page of the Banco de la República : Review of La risa del cuervo, by Ariel Castillo Mier

 



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