Eduardo Gómez
(Colombia, 1932)   
Eduardo Gómez

Eduardo Gómez has published seven books of poems and three essay collections. He studied Literature and Drama in Germany for six years and was assistant director of the Berliner Ensemble. For 30 years he has been Professor of European literature at the Universidad de los Andes and other universities in Bogotá. The editor of a literary magazine and an active theatre and poetry critic, he has been very active in the cultural life of the capital.

Born in a village of the Andes where the burden of a Catholic and conservative tradition left its mark on the behavior and beliefs of a people not yet freed from a feudal past, Eduardo Gómez has never ceased to question and exorcise this heritage in his work. Greatly influenced by authors such as Baudelaire and Brecht, Nietszche, Freud and Marx, he has achieved a delicate balance between philosophical and aesthetic forms of expression: a polished, exact, language in which irony and metaphor examine the basic conflicts of our society and modern man. “The binding of pathos and irony, the admirable interweaving of ethics and aesthetics, the intelligent and measured introduction of experience… are among the factors that place his poetry among the most dynamic of the present Latin American vanguard”, wrote the Spanish poet, José M. Caballero Bonald, about one of his first books.

The city is one of the main themes in his poetry. Under neon lights, in bars, in streets filled with traffic and anonymous passers-by, the solitary poet discovers outsiders, the uprooted and the absurd. In Latin American cities, opulence and misery, backwardness and progress, bankers and people displaced by hunger and violence coexist. Eduardo Gómez has devised a clarifying mythology of the shanty towns, the daily struggle of the poor, prising a way into the factories, the garbage dumps and the inner workings of begging and crime, to question death and eroticism in a country living in the abyss, to reveal the signs of oppression and decay.

Night is another predominant element in Gómez’ poetry. Night represents the splitting of personality, an unknown dimension, an immersion in the tide of the unconscious and the occult, a free zone of desires and dreams. A symbol of evil, a transgressive force, with an accent reminiscent of Baudelaire, it takes on the moralities subjected on mankind, every theology producing misery and restricting freedom. One of his most fertile resources is a kind of dream inventory, a nocturnal accumulation of images, as in this fragment of a poem:

Look for me behind the trees sunken in the night
beyond the last houses of the poor quarters
in the forsaken alleys and one-night cheap hotels
in the cemeteries dreaming of the infinite choir of crickets
in the parks anointed by crime and passion
in the ruined palaces made enormous by dusk.
I am the passenger of midnight trains
the traveler of ships sailing among fogs
or under black skies with a dying moon…

It is a somber vision, for in his poetry, as the Colombian novelist, Germán Espinosa, wrote: “… the hidden face of our continent comes to the surface — an exploration of the unconscious of a people ignoring the atavistic phantoms active in their actual slavery: religious prejudices, repressed libidos, an oppressive legality inherited from Spain, a cult of death, a love of sickness.”

© Guillermo Martínez González (Translated by Nicolás Suescún)


Restauración de la palabra (Restoration of the Word), Antares-Tercer Mundo, Bogotá, 1969
El continente de los muertos
(The Continent of the Dead), Tipografía Cultural, Bogotá, 1975
Movimientos sinfónicos (Symphonic Movements), Universidad Pedagógica, Bogotá, 1980
El viajero innumerable, included with the three previous books in Poesía 1969-1985, Tercer Mundo, Bogotá, 1985
Historia baladesca de un poeta (Balladic History of a Poet), Universidad Nacional, Bogotá, 1988
Las claves secretas (The Secret Codes), Trilce Editores, Bogotá, 1998
Eduardo Gómez, Antología poética (anthology), Los Libros de la Frontera, Barcelona, Spain, 2000
Faro de luna y sol (Moon and Sun Lighthouse), Fondo Editorial Universidad EAFIT, Medellín, 2002
La ciudad delirante (The Delirious City) (anthology), Trafo Verlag, Berlin, 2006
Stadt im Fieber (The Delirious City) (bilingual edition), Trafo Verlag, Berlin 2007

Reflexiones y esbozos — Poesía, teatro y crítica en Colombia (Reflections and Sketches — Poetry, Theater and Criticism in Colombia), Fundación Simón y Lola Guberek, Bogotá 1991
Ensayos de crítica interpretativa — T. Mann, M. Proust, F. Kafka, J.W. Goethe, y Ensayo sobre la función estética y social de la poesía (Essays of Interpretative Criticism…, and Essay on the Aesthetic and Social Function of Poetry), Ediciones Uniandes, Universidad de los Andes, Bogotá, 2006 

In Spanish
La hojarasca. Review by Omar Ardila

Universidad de los Andes web page. Bibliographical note
Banco de la República web page. Selection poems from Restauración de la Palabra

Banco de la República web page. Selection poems from El Continente de los Muertos

Banco de la República web page. Selection poems from Movimientos Sinfónicos

Banco de la República web page. Selection poems from El Viajero Innumerable

Banco de la República web page. Selection poems from Historia baladesca de un poeta

Banco de la República web page. Selection poems from Las claves secretas

Banco de la República web page Selection poems from Faro de luna y sol

Revista Aleph. La Ciudad Delirante de Eduardo Gómez essay by Enrique Santos-Molano

Banco de la República web page. Situaciones donde la palabra sea necesaria review from Antología poética by Manuel Giraldo-Magíl

Banco de la República web page. Afán de esencialidad review about Historia baladesca de un poeta by Jaime García Maffla


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