Santiago Mutis Durán
(Colombia, 1951)   
Santiago Mutis Durán

If something stands out in the poetry of Santiago Mutis Durán, it is his strong feeling for imagery, and its strong bonds with painting. It is something that can be traced in almost all his work but fundamentally in his 1986 book, El visitante (The Visitor). The critic and poet David Jiménez has written about its “rich visual experience”, and sees it as a rich vein of Mutis’s poetry which is also a dialogue with painting.


It is, of course, only one of the many poetic tendencies that are present in Mutis’s poetry, in which everyday subjects, home, the city, the people of the country, the days that one after another, as the poet Aurelio Arturo expressed it, make up life, form a comprehensive view of the world.

It is his struggle with reality itself, his wish for transformation and his search for mystery that makes him outstanding in the present panorama of Colombian poetry. He knows, as he writes in a brief poem titled ‘El Caballero’ (The Knight), that “behind his shield a knight/ dressed in iron, defends the invisible.” It is not that his vision of the invisible becomes a sort of Ars Poetica, but that it constitutes a badge of his aesthetics, a course that does not seem to be preconceived, just like there are brushstrokes in painting that seem more thoughtful than thought out. Mutis Durán praises what he does not see, the indefinite, that which evades our eyes, as if he cared more for what things hide than for what they show. Like sorcerers, like children do, he attributes an inner life to things.

Santiago Mutis Durán’s last published book is one long poem about the wretched life of a poet, a self-willed victim of delirium, that has no precedent in Colombian poetry. It is a veiled biography of a miserable life written with passion, and of an immensely moving beauty.

In addition to writing suggestive, sometimes disturbing poetry, Mutis Durán is one of the most serious and shrewd critics of Colombian art. This also shows the evident communicating vessels between his poetic feeling and his pictorial insight.

It is not well know that Mutis Durán early on abandoned a career as a mathematician, that he is one of the best publishers in Colombia, and also a tireless creator of reviews and publications. A tracker of secret botanies, of signals from this and other worlds, Santiago Mutis Durán has been building a world of his own, without ostentation, almost secretively. According to his verses “the symbol is an everyday object/ in the land of dreams.” It is from this uncertain territory that he brings us news.

© Juan Manuel Roca (Translated by Nicolás Suescún)


En “la línea de sombra”, Editorial Universidad Pedagógica Nacional, 1980.
Tú también eres de lluvia, Editorial Instituto Colombiano de Cultura, 1982.
Tú también eres de lluvia and Soñadores de pájaros, Fondo de Cultura, Mexico, 1988.
El visitante, Editorial Universidad de Antioquia, 1986.
Falso Diario, Editorial Universidad del Valle, 1993.
Afuera pasa el siglo, Fondo de Cultura, México, 1999.
Dicen de ti, Editorial Universidad de Antioquia, 2003.

Relámpagos de la ciudad (14 Conjuros), Panamericana Editorial, 2001.

Art criticism
Guillermo Wiedemann, Villegas Editores, 1993.
Eduardo Ramírez Villamizar, Museo de Arte Moderno de Bogotá, 2000.
Saturnino Ramírez, Museo de Arte Moderno de Bucaramanga, 2004.

Panorama inédito de la nueva poesía en Colombia, Procultura-Presidencia de Colombia, 1986.
Novelas y crónicas de J. A. Osorio Lizarazo, Instituto Colombiano de Cultura, 1978.
Poesía y prosa de José A. Silva, Instituto Colombiano de Cultura.
Obra e imagen de Aurelio Arturo, Instituto Colombiano de Cultura, 1977.
Un país que sueña, de Aurelio Arturo, Instituto Colombiano de Cultura, 1982.
Morada al sur y otros poemas, de Aurelio Arturo, Procultura, 1986.
Primeros poemas de Aurelio Arturo, Revista Literaria Gradiva – Arango Editores, 1994.
Poesía y prosa de Álvaro Mutis, Instituto Colombiano de Cultura, 1981.
Tras las huellas de Maqroll el Gaviero, two books, Proartes – Revista Literaria Gradiva – Ministerio de Cultura, 1988 y 1993.
De lecturas y algo del mundo, de Álvaro Mutis, Editorial Planeta, 2000.
Desde el solar (50 textos sobre Colombia), de Álvaro Mutis, Ministerio de Cultura – Universidad Nacional, 2002.
Obra literaria de Álvaro Mutis, Procultura, 2 books, 1985.
Un triunfo sobre el olvido, Ernesto Volkening, Arango Editores, 1988.
La miniatura, el grabado y la pintura en Colombia, de Gabriel Giraldo Jaramillo, Instituto Colombiano de Cultura, 1980.

El misterioso continente del tiempo (essays) .
Traducciones de José A. Silva-Aurelio Arturo-Álvaro Mutis.

Prometeo Magazine No 71-72


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