Maruja Vieira has been at the center of Colombia’s political and cultural life. Daughter of a conservative Colonel in Colombia’s civil war (1899-1902), and cousin of the great assassinated Liberal leader, Rafael Uribe Uribe, she is the sister of a well-known Communist leader. She has said that she discovered quite young that, as García Márquez has written, “poetry is a cause for eternal militants”, but she has also fought for the rights of women and of ethnic minorities. She is a journalist, has worked in radio and TV, and has published nine poetry collections.
For almost six decades, Vieria’s poetry has seemed suspended in time, in her themes and striving for form as well as in her attempts to turn poetry into a way of “being in the world” and facing the life’s contingencies. Echoes of her childhood, of her father and home, transform the past into a poetic source that endures in the present and produces a constant sensation of peace. Love and the loved one, dreamt or evoked, lead us to a serene vision of death that makes possible a spiritual reunion with the absent YOU. At the same time, her travels abroad and praise of poets or artists become aesthetic channels for her personal experiences; the first have a deep human meaning that must be communicated, and the second favor dialogues with the personalities that have taken part in the refinement of her lyric vision. An exploration of the outside world, often denouncing social injustice, is also present in her work, although without a political bias.
Similarly, her continuous formal experimentation and affinity with poets such as Bécquer, Juan Ramón Jiménez and Cernuda, is closely bound up with the different degrees of intensity required to internalize lyrical emotion. In the poetics of Maruja Vieira, the search for a metaphor to renew each theme stands out; essential features of her expressive system are a syntactical layout capable of fixing sense, and an adequate and pertinent analogic transparency.
Vieria’s first book, Belfry of Rain, is the germ of a poetics that begins to take shape between an adolescent disillusion with love and the creation of a nature peopled by elements of an universal Eros. Bells and rain are the basic symbols, the music of remembrance and the intensified melacholia induced by the sound of rain beating on the ground. In later poems, the rain becomes tears for the death of her father, and she undertakes a painful, constant search for the past and disappeared loved ones, as well as home, friends, school.
In her later poems of the 1960s, she seems to suggest that in poetry there is a sort of triumph against death and absence. She begins to explore other places, and she writes poems about her journeys and readings. She reflects on human destiny with greater depth. Now, the loved one and death seem to meet in order to erase the distance between the living and the dead. She offers resistance: “I shall defend your face… I shall defend your voice,” she says defiantly. And she posits the metamorphosis of loved ones into a branch of a tree, thus preventing their definitive departure.
In this struggle against time, Vieria has recently evoked friends and journeys, and written elegies to diverse Colombian writers and artists; she has created vivid portraits of poets like Byron, historical characters such as Simonetta Vespucci, or an anonymous woman in a park in Madrid. In her latest book, The Names of Absence, she performs a sort of review of her work which ranges from the use of classical forms to the conversational tone of our time and shows her poetry as it has always been — serene, in a peaceful dialogue with absent presences, a warm voice, the decanted product of family ties, loves, friendships and travels, filled with experiences and readings.
Campanario de lluvia, Ediciones Espiral, Editorial Iqueima, Bogotá, 1947.
Los poemas de enero, Ediciones Espiral, Editorial Iqueima, Bogotá, 1951.
Poesía, Jorge Montoya Toro Editor, Medellín, 1951.
Palabras de la ausencia, Editorial Zapata, Manizales, 1953.
Clave mínima, Biblioteca de Autores Caldenses, Imprenta Departamental, Manizales, 1965.
Mis propias palabras, Biblioteca de Escritores Caldenses, Imprenta Departamental, Manizales, 1986.
Tiempo de vivir, Publicaciones Universidad Central, Bogotá, 1992.
Sombra del amor, Ediciones Embalaje del Museo Rayo de Roldanillo, XVI Encuen¬tro de Poetas Colombianas, Roldanillo, 1998.
Los nombres de la ausencia, Ediciones “San Librario”, Bogotá, 2006, ISBN958-97813-2-2
Antología poética, Instituto Caro y Cuervo, Bogotá, 2006.
Poems and short biography. In Spanish
http://www.festivaldepoesiademedellin.org/pub/en/Revista/ultimas_ediciones/65_66/vieira.html Poems and biography. In Spanish
Poems and biography. In Spanish
http://www.palabravirtual.com/index.php?ir=crit.php&wid=1285&show=poemas&p=Maruja+Vieira Five poems in Spanish, three of them with audio.