Born in Bogotá, Fernando Charry Lara, the well-known poet and critic of the Mito generation (Mito was an influential review published from 1955 to 1962) was a lawyer who held important state and commercial positions, but who quietly dedicated his private life to poetry and literature. He taught in universities, compiled two anthologies of Colombian poetry, and wrote shrewd essays about it.
In 1944, Charry Lara’s first poems were published and, four years later, already known in Colombia and Latin America, his first collection, Nocturno y otros sueños, with a prologue full of praise by the future Spanish Nobel prize winner, Vicente Aleixandre, appeared. Charry’s poetic oeuvre, like that of the renowned Aurelio Arturo, is relatively slim. Only two books of poetry preceded his collected poems, Llama de amor viva, reprinted in Spain for the 5th Centenary of the arrival of the Spanish in America. As an essayist, Charry Lara was remarkable for his critical rigor, most particularly demonstrated in his book, Lector de poesía, in which his perceptiveness and sobriety reveal a reflexive writer, an uncommon trait in Colombia.
If, as it used to be said, “silence is eloquence”, then no one in Colombian poetry is more eloquent than this master, who avoided undue emphasis and patiently chose his words. Charry, who was influenced by poets such as Luis Cernuda and the surrealists, seems to offer a justification for literature — so far is he from any vanity or ostentation — and a justification for the presumption of any artist to add to or modify in any substantial way the world. His was a lesson in discretion, comparable in Colombia only to that of Aurelio Arturo.
Charry did not like, and avoided, the spotlight. Nevertheless, he received praise from great poets such as Pedro Salinas, who wrote that he had “the main thing in a poet: a visionary guideline, a way of approaching things that was only his”. Aleixandre said that even though living “thousands of kilometers away” and never having seen him, he spent nights with our poet under the common sky of poetry and a shared language. The Colombian critic, Rafael Gutiérrez Girardot, said that the “poetic works of Fernando Charry Lara do not require praise”, perhaps thinking that there is no greater praise, and no greater recognition, than the realization of one’s own writing.
Charry Lara’s lesson has not faded. He was someone who taught us to see, to feel, to understand poetry, often that of other poets rather than his own. But his rhythms, the atmosphere of his poetry, his melodic and muffled words, his faint and somewhat somnambulistic or ghostly evocations, have kept us company in sleepless nights when the veil of our brutal reality is drawn and we are trapped in reverie.
Verse comes from the Night
In the Rainy Season
The Plain of Tuluá
The Lover’s Thoughts
Nocturnos y otros sueños, Ediciones ABC, Bogotá, 1949
Los adioses, Ministerio de Educación Nacional, Bogotá, 1963
Pensamientos del amante, Procultura, Bogotá, 1981
Llama de amor viva (Collected poems), Procultura, Bogotá, 1986
Cántico. Ediciones Librería Siglo XX. Bogotá. 1994
Poesía reunida (Collected poems), Pretextos-Fondo de Cultura Económica, Valencia, Spain-Bogotá, Colombia, 2003. ISBN (Pre-textos) 84-8191-538-6, (FCE) 958-38-0088-0
Lector de poesía, Bogotá, 1975
Poesía y poetas colombianos, Bogotá, 1975
José Asunción Silva: vida y creación Bogotá, 1985
Lector de poesía y otros ensayos inéditos, Random House, Bogotá, 2005
Fernando Charry Lara
Official page of Fernando Charry Lara
Language: English and Spanish
A media voz
A media voz, poems
Interview by Pablo Villamizar. Published in the Journal El Nacional. Caracas, 27/11/2001.
‘Defense of poetry’ by Fernando Charry Lara and three poems, translated by Floriano Martins
Jornal de Poesía
Interview by Floriano Martins