Aridjis, Homero 1940-
ARIDJIS, Homero 1940-
PERSONAL: Born April 6, 1940, in Contepec, Michoacán, Mexico; son of Nicias Aridjis (a grain merchant) and Josefina Fuentes; married Betty Ferber, March 14, 1965; children: two daughters. Education: Universidad Nacional Autonoma de Mexico, earned degree, 1961.
ADDRESSES: Home—Sierra Jiutepec 155 B, Lomas Barrilaco, 11010 Mexico, D.F., Mexico.
CAREER: Writer. Correspondencias, Mexico, editor-in-chief, 1957-61; Dialogos, assistant editor, 1966. Government of Mexico, cultural attaché to the Netherlands, then ambassador to Switzerland, beginning 1972. Visiting lecturer at University of Indiana, 1969, and New York University, 1969-71; Columbia University, poet-in-residence, 1979; director of Festival Internacional de Poesia, 1981, 1982, and 1987.
MEMBER: PEN International (president), Poetas Mexicanos, Grupo del Cien (founder and president).
AWARDS, HONORS: Xavier Villaurrutia Prize, 1964; Guggenheim fellowships, 1966 and 1979; Commander of Royal Order of the Polar Star, Sweden, 1986; Premio de Novela Novedades, 1988.
La Musa roja (poetry), [Mexico], 1958.
Los Ojos desdoblados (poetry), La Palabra (Mexico City, Mexico), 1960.
La Tumba de Filidor, La Palabra (Mexico City, Mexico), 1961.
Antes del reino (poetry), Era (Mexico City, Mexico), 1963.
La Dificil ceremonia (poem), Pájaro Cascabel (Mexico City, Mexico), 1963.
Mirandola dormir: Seguido de Pavana por la amada presente, J. Mortiz (Mexico City, Mexico), 1964.
Persefone (novel), J. Mortiz (Mexico City, Mexico), 1967, translation by wife, Betty Ferber, published as Persephone, Vintage (New York, NY), 1986.
Los Espacios azules (poetry), J. Mortiz (Mexico City, Mexico), 1968, bilingual English-Spanish edition, introduction by Kenneth Rexroth, published as Los espacios azules/Blue Spaces: Selected Poems of Homero Aridjis, Seabury Press (New York, NY), 1974.
Ajedrez—Navegaciones (poems and short sketches), Siglo Veintiuno (Mexico City, Mexico), 1969.
La Poeta niño: Narracion, Fondo de Cultura Economica (Mexico City, Mexico), 1971.
(Editor) Seis poetas latinoamericanos de hoy, Harcourt (New York, NY), 1972.
El Encantador solitario, Fondo de Cultura Economica (Mexico City, Mexico), 1972.
Quemar las naves, J. Mortiz (Mexico City, Mexico), 1975.
Sobre una ausencia, Seix Barral (Barcelona, Spain), 1976.
Antologia (poetry), selected by Cristina Peri Rossi, Lumen, 1976.
Vivir para ver, J. Mortiz (Mexico City, Mexico), 1977.
Espectaculo del año dos mil (play), J. Mortiz (Mexico City, Mexico), 1981.
Exaltation of Light (poetry), bilingual English-Spanish edition with translations by Eliot Weinberger, BOA Editions, 1981.
(Editor) Antologia del primer festival international de poesia, Morelia, 1981, J. Mortiz (Mexico City, Mexico), 1982.
Construir la muerte (poetry), J. Mortiz (Mexico City, Mexico), 1982.
Playa nudista: El Ultimo adan (short stories), Argos Vergara, 1982.
1492, vida y tiempos de Juan Cabezón de Castilla (novel), Siglo Veintiuno (Mexico City, Mexico), 1985, translation by Betty Ferber published as 1492: The Life and Times of Juan Cabezón of Castille, Summit (New York, NY), 1991.
Obra poetica, 1960-1986, J. Mortiz (Mexico City, Mexico), 1987.
Memorias del nuevo mundo, Diana (Mexico City, Mexico), 1988.
Gran teatro del fin del mundo, J. Mortiz (Mexico City, Mexico), 1990.
Imágenes para el fin del milenio, y Nueva expulsión del paraíso, J. Mortiz (Mexico City, Mexico), 1990.
La leyenda de los soles, Fondo de Cultura Economica (Mexico City, Mexico), 1993.
El Señor de los ultimos dias: Visiones del año mil, Edhasa (Barcelona, Spain), 1994, translation published as The Lord of the Last Days: Visions of the Year 1000, Morrow (New York, NY), 1995.
Antologia poetica, Departamento del Distrito Federal, 1994.
En quien piensas cuando haces el amor?, Taurus (Mexico City, Mexico), 1995.
Apocalipsis con figuras: el hombre milenario, Taurus (Mexico City, Mexico), 1997.
Ojos de otro mirar (poetry), Tucan de Virginia (Mexico City, Mexico), 1998.
El Silencio de Orlando, Alfaguara (Mexico City, Mexico), 2000.
La Montaña de las mariposas, Alfaguara (Mexico City, Mexico), 2000.
Eyes to See Otherwise: Selected Poems of Homero Aridjis, 1960-2000, New Directions (New York, NY), 2002.
Also author of Imagenes para el fin del milenio (poetry), 1986. Work represented in anthologies, including Republica de poetas: Antologia de poesia, edited by Sergio Mandragon, M. Casillas, 1985. Contributor to periodicals.
SIDELIGHTS: Deemed "one of Mexico's greatest living poets" by Ana Maria Hernandez in World Literature Today, Homero Aridjis is the author of numerous volumes of poetry, several novels, and plays that are extremely popular in Mexico. Two volumes of his poetry and three of his novels have been translated into English. Aridjis grew up in Michoacán, Mexico, and his work is deeply influenced by his memories of nature and his childhood. He is known for his lyrical style and his emphasis on the theme of the redeeming nature of human love.
Aridjis published his first book of poetry, La Musa roja, in 1958 at the age of eighteen. He graduated from the Universidad Nacional Autonoma in Mexico in 1961 and then worked as a journalist and editor for several newspapers. He began to win numerous awards for his poetry, including a national Villaurrutia prize for Mirandola dormir and a Guggenheim fellowship. In 1967 Aridjis published his first novel, which his wife, Betty Berber, translated into English. He served as visiting professor and poet-in-residence at various U.S. universities and continued to write. In 1985 he received critical acclaim for his novel 1492: The Life and Times of Juan Cabezón of Castille. The book covers a topic largely overlooked by most writers: the persecution of Spanish Jews in the 1400s. Juan, the main character, his love Isabel, and friend Pero Meniques, are converted Jews who must endure the Spanish Inquisition. Aridjis conducted extensive historical research to ensure the novel's authenticity, and Sybil Steinberg acknowledged his success by noting in Publishers Weekly that the novel is an "ambitious recreation" of that time period.
Aridjis, a dedicated environmental activist, brings his convictions to the fore in his 1993 novel La Leyenda de los soles. The novel is set in Mexico City in 2027, when the city has been buried by its own waste. Meanwhile, residents struggle to survive in a world lacking spirituality and human rights. The strong subtexts of this novel deal with numerous related issues, such as ecological concerns, population growth, and declining natural resources. Aridjis also manages to re-create some Aztec myths in this apocalyptic story. Thomas E. Case noted in World Literature Today that "Aridjis masterfully handles Aztec imagery in a combination of magic realism, fantasy, and science fiction."
Aridjis has published over twenty-six books of poetry and prose that have been translated into twelve languages. He is also the founder and president of the Group of 100, an international environmental organization of scientists, artists, and writers. In 2002 his Eyes to See Otherwise: Selected Poems of Homero Aridjis, 1960-2000 was released. The poems in this anthology tend to be slightly sentimental, yet surreal; as a critic for Publishers Weekly commented, "Aridjis's poems have … an almost American tendency to deliver a satisfying punch line or irony, a tendency he mediates with a curiously elegant sense of magic." Like the bulk of Aridjis's poetry, the works characteristically contain themes rooted in the natural world. Susan Salter Reynolds suggested in the Los Angeles Times that reading these poems is "like floating through time; it evokes a childhood and a child's vision."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Borzoi Anthology of Latin American Literature, Knopf (New York, NY), 1986.
Dictionary of Hispanic Biography, Gale (Detroit, MI), 1996.
Latin-American Lives, Macmillan (New York, NY), 1996.
Amicus Journal, fall, 1998, Dick Russell, "Poetry in Motion," p. 34.
Booklist, September 1, 1995, Margaret Flanagan, review of The Lord of the Last Days, p. 37.
Library Journal, January, 1997, Rafael M. Gonzales, review of En quien piensas cuando haces el amor?, p. 78.
Los Angeles Times, December 7, 1997, "Homero Aridjis" (interview), p. M3; May 24, 1998, p. 2; June 23, 2002, Susan Salter Reynolds, "Discoveries."
New York Times Book Review, November 5, 1995, Erik Burns, review of The Lord of the Last Days, p. 23.
Publishers Weekly, April 26, 1991, Sybil Steinberg, review of 1492: The Life and Times of Juan Cabezón of Castille, p. 47; July 17, 1995, review of The Lord of the Last Days, p. 217; March 18, 2002, review of Eyes to See Otherwise, p. 92.
Times Literary Supplement, June 18, 1970.
World Literature Today, autumn, 1978; winter, 1983; summer, 1983; summer, 1986; summer, 1988; winter, 1992, Edward W. Hood, review of Imágenes para el fin del milenio, y Nueva expulsión del paraíso, p. 1000; winter, 1995, Thomas E. Case, review of La Leyenda de los soles, p. 101.
Sweet Briar College Web site,http://www.sbc.edu/ (July 7, 2002), "1999-2000 International Writers."*