After graduating in Linguistics and Literature at the Universidad Pontificia Bolivariana in Medellín, where he was born, Tamayo went on to study for a Masters in Philology at the Instituto de la Lengua Española in Madrid, Spain. He has published a poetry collection entitled Los elementos perdidos (“The Lost Elements”), and has written four other (unpublished) books. He is a co-founder of the International Poetry Festival of Medellín. Several poetry reviews have published his oracular poems, and he has been invited to a handful of international poetry festivals. He also leads poetry and poetry appreciation workshops.
Ever since his poems were first featured in Medellín reviews, Juan Diego Tamayo’s work has fascinated us with its verbal grace. He can be considered one of the visionary poets, a group who follow the route of the sacred signs. His poetic universe is textured with revealed phrases, invoked in a nocturnal sphere, guided by a light that directs the eye toward zones only visible during sleep.
His first poems, written between 1986 and 1998 and collected in Los elementos perdidos, demonstrate a method of expression based on the image, open to sudden flights of fantasy. His poetry speaks of what is not obvious, it reveals prayer’s underlying dialogue; these are songs that redeem us from our daily disarray. Typical of his first book are two poems that confirm this: ‘Invocation’ and ‘Lord of Lightning’. In the first one we see his talent for the poetic image:
Lost in amazement
before the image
and in the poem ‘Lord of Lightning’ the poet extends his gaze towards the infinite; he feels the universe throbbing:
Oh!, Old Lord who pursue
the stirring rhythm of the woods
announcing the fear of prayer
where every silence is truth
and sustained delirium.
These two elements, image and prayer, are essential in the great universal poetic tradition and specifically in a series of fundamental Latin American poets, to whom we can trace the poetic experience of Juan Diego Tamayo. Poets such as Humberto Díaz Casanueva, Rosamel del Valle and José Lezama Lima, among others, have opened a numinous path followed by a constellation of poets who continue enriching the poetic imagination of this century.
After his first book, Tamayo explored other forms of expression and his work became more revealing, without being excessively intimate. He has a talent for making the reader feel the power of silence, like a musical source adding to the vision.
Some of the following poems have been taken from a series of poetry collections which are as yet unpublished.
Los Elementos Perdidos, Ediciones Fábula, Medellín, 2005
Juan Diego Tamayo’s page on the Medellín Poetry Festival website
Poems on the Meridiano 75 blog
Poems in Pscicoespacios, the online publication of the University of Envigado