A poet, cultural journalist, essayist and for fourteen years professor of Semiotics and Communications in Barranquilla, Iriarte is considered one of the most representative poets of the Colombian Caribbean coast. He has published several books of poetry and is now working on a novel, as well as on an anthology of his essays, lectures and book reviews. He’s also the editor of the arts and culture review, Viacuarenta.
In his first book, Doy mi palabra (I Give my Word), Iriate’s voice is marked by an erotic tone, joie de vivre and signs of diverse poetic inspirations. Reviewing his second book, Segundas intenciones (Second Intentions), the poet and critic Gustavo Ibarra Merlano emphasized Iriarte’s disillusioned and painful voice subdued by the ravages of salt as a recurrent theme, poetically expressed in precise, measured language. His third book, Cámara de jazz (Jazz Chamber) is an effort to voice his life-long love of jazz.
“Ever since we were young and happy university students,” writes his journalist friend Joaquín Mattos Omar, “I have never seen Miguel Iriarte without the constant company of the soft cadence of jazz; whenever we, his friends, heard the notes of Charlie Parker, Miles Davis or Louis Armstrong, we knew that our poet had arrived, his serene smile in deep harmony with the music.”
The poet and essayist, John Junieles, describes the same collection as follows: “…the poetry [of Cámara de jazz] seems to adopt the same musical coordinates as its poetic root: the libertarian nature of jazz. In these poems there is a graded series lending an expressive dynamism to the texts. A crossing of spaces and dimensions, a river of symbols and meanings flowing into this quiet music you read like a scream.”
Another critic, Enrique Ferrer Corredor, includes Iriarte in what he calls a ‘transmodern’ movement, together with Hugo Chaparro Valderrama, Fernando Rendón, Gustavo Adolfo Garcés, Piedad Bonnet, Rafael del Castillo and Tallulah Flores, among others, because “they bring together literary and ideological modernism and have compromised with reason, progress and modernity and although they follow the Modernismo Hispanic-American literary school and the Vanguardists, they never are really post-modern. It is a half-existential, half-critical attitude that assumes the risk of the metaphor worked by Spanish poetry.”
Iriarte is an avid reader of the poetry of Borges, Stevens, Whitman, Pound, Eluard, Pavese, Cernuda and Salinas.
Doy mi palabra (I Promise), Ediciones Simón y Lola Guberek, Bogotá, 1985
Segundas intenciones ( Double Meaning), Ediciones Metropolitanas,
Cámara de jazz ( Jazz Chamber), Editorial La Iguana Ciega, Barranquilla,