Darío Jaramillo Agudelo
Fellow: Awarded 2008
Field of Study: Fiction
Competition: Latin America & Caribbean
Born in Santa Rosa de Osos, Colombia, in 1947, Darío Jaramillo Agudelo received a B.A. in economics and a law degree in 1970 from the Universidad Javeriana in Bogotá; he then held an appointment there as an adjutant professor (1971-77) before joining a private law firm (1977-83), and later working as the manager of a department store. However, during those years he was also writing. He first came to prominence as a poet, with the publication in 1974 of Historias, which seems a sharp departure from his academic training and early career paths. Four years later, his second book of poetry, Tratado de retórica, won Colombia’s National Poetry Prize. His next four collections of poetry—Poemas de amor (1986), Del ojo a la lengua (1995), Cantar por cantar (2001), and Gatos (2005)—firmly established him as a powerful voice in Colombian, indeed Latin American, letters. His name was linked with those of Juan Gustavo Cobo Borda, Juan Manuel Roca, Raúl Henao, and María Mercedes Carranza, among others, as members of the “Generación sin Nombre.” Although Mr. Jaramillo Agudelo was enjoying marked success at poetry competitions, he accepted a position as Cultural Chief of Banco de la República in 1985 to free him from dependence on the prize money these competitions offered.
During these years, he expanded his repertoire, publishing La muerte de Alec in 1983, and following that novel with five more: Cartas cruzadas (1995), Novela con fantasma (1995), Memorias de un hombre feliz (2000), El juego del alfiler (2002), and, most recently, La voz interior (2006). During his Guggenheim Fellowship term, he is working on a seventh novel, which takes up the story of Simona, a secondary character who appears in Chapter 27 of La voz interior. Always eager to categorize writers, critics now considered him part of Colombia’s “literature de la violencia” movement. Although his novels do deal with violence, that is not their theme, and his work cannot be so easily pigeonholed.
Although many people would consider poetry and fiction writing as distinct genres, Mr. Jaramillo Agudelo would disagree. He views all genres as poetry. As he explained in an interview with the Mexican newspaper La Jornada, “A novel, an essay, a reportage is only valuable if it conveys poetic emotion.”