Poet, essayist, translator and geologist, Jorge Bustamante was born in Zipaquirá, Colombia and has lived in Russia, Costa Rica, and since 1982, in Mexico. He has published four books of poems, one book of stories, and two essay collections: Henry Miller: entre la desesperanza y el goce and Literatura rusa de fin de milenio. His translations of Russian poets, including Anna Ajmátova, Osip Mandelstam, Alexandr Blok y Fedor Sologub, have been published in Mexico and Colombia.
Jorge Bustamante García (Zipaquirá, Colombia), studied Geology in Moscow from 1971 to 1978, an experience which led him to become interested in nineteenth and twentieth century Russian poetry. Upon his return to Colombia, he worked as a geologist in the Cauca and Nariño. In 1980 he migrated to San José de Costa Rica. While working in a gold mine in Guanacaste, on the Pacific side, he published an anthology of young Costa Rican poetry and discovered, or perhaps uncovered, the poetry of Apollinaire. Bustamante has lived in Mexico since 1982, first in Jalisco and then in Morelia, in the state of Michoacán. Living is just a way of saying it: because of his job as a geologist, Bustamante has had to explore and recognize the vast variety of rocks in northern and central Mexico. Neruda wrote a book of poems about the rocks of Chile; maybe one day Bustamante will give us one on the rocks of Mexico.
Rather than scientific books, Bustamante takes poetry collections as companions on his work travels, so the music of words may interact with the friction and sound of rocks and minerals. The hard and rough geology of northern Mexico drastically differs from the softness of Jorge’s personality and the melancholy compression in his verses. Bustamante appears to write, as Wordsworth wanted to, some time after the facts and images have changed in such a way that they have surreptitiously become dreams turned into words.
In his best verses, Bustamante captures moments that fall like tears into fast running water, the failure that diminishes and darkens the soul, the futility of comebacks, the dreams forgotten in some corner of a passing city, the shadows of “the memories of something, of nothing, of nobody”, the music of some “green eyes of a girl/ forever fleeting/ at her sixteen years”, the faces of childhood that have evanesced, readings like those of Proust, which are “a way/ to learn while dying”, but which also bring contentment in what one has had: friendships, wine, poetry, laughter, the sea, the rocks that speak to us... Their voice is a voice from the Colombian highlands, from the Mexican highlands, a voice in the mid shadows, subtle as air.
His lyrical works incorporate experiences of his country of birth and of Russia, as well as Mexican cities and landscapes. They are very Colombian, very Russian, very Mexican, melancholically close to birches, willows and eucaliptus, to emeralds and gold from Colombia and to rocks and minerals from central and northern México, to the verses of Pushkin, of Anna Ajmatova and Aurelio Arturo, to classic Russian nineteenth-century narratives, to García Márquez and Fernando Vallejo, to vallenato, The Beatles and the Rolling Stones. Bustamante is a poet who describes the need to save the small, good things left by the wounds received in long battles and shipwrecks.
Poetry comes from the hearts of men and goes to the hearts of men; and from heart to heart it reaches the readers of Jorge Bustamante’s poetry, under the dim light of dusk as the birds fly off to roost.
Invención del viaje, Los Libros del Fakir, Mexico, 1986
El desorden del viento, Universidad Autónoma of Mexico, 1989
El canto del mentiroso, Gobierno del Estado of Jalisco, 1994
El caos de las cosas perfectas, UAM, Mexico, 1996
Diez formas de contemplar un río, Verdehalago, Mexico, 2004
Literary translations and poetry
Poemas de Anna Ajmátova, UNAM, Mexico, 1992
Cinco poetas rusos, Editorial Norma, Bogota, 1995
Palabra del solitario, Verdehalago, Mexico, 1999
Poemas escogidos de Anna Ajmátova, Editorial Norma, Bogota, 1999
El instante maravilloso, Russian poetry XX century, UNAM, Mexico, 2005.
Literatura rusa de fin de milenio, Ediciones Sin Nombre, Mexico, 1997
Henry Miller: entre la desesperanza y el goce, Centro Colombo-Americano, Bogota, 1991
Enseres para una biografía, poetry.
La poesía y la tabla de Mendeleiev, essay.
El Perro Vagabundo y otras memorias de escritores rusos, translations.
Internet page of the International Poetry Festival of Medellín
Three poems and a short biography, in Spanish
Revista Agulha, an interview of Jorge Bustamante by Eduardo García Aguilar .
http://www.revista.agulha.nom.br/bh11aguilar.htm In Spanish.
Letras Libres, introduction to a Russian anthology, Poetas en el cruce de dos siglos by Jorge Bustamante García.
http://www.letraslibres.com/index.php?art=9823 In Spanish.
Page of the Universidad Autónoma de Puebla, poems and biography.
http://www.buap.mx/cultura/poetas/jbustamante.html In Spanish.
La Jornada Semanal, April 30, 2000. Article about Arseni Tarkovski and translation of five poems into Spanish :
http://www.jornada.unam.mx/2000/04/30/sem-arseni.html In Spanish.
La Jornada Semanal, May 8, 2005. Review of El instante maravilloso: Russian poetry of XX century, translated by Jorge Bustamante, Mexico, 2005. Article by Neftalí Coria.
http://www.jornada.unam.mx/2005/05/08/sem-hojea.html In Spanish.