Guillén was born in 1933 in Granada, in San Juan de
Dios Street, on the corner of Cardenal Mendoza Street. As
a member of the poetry group “Versos al aire libre”, he was
one of the first poets to break the silence which fell over
Granadian poetry for twenty years after García Lorca’s
murder. Later, together with José G. Ladrón
de Guevara, he founded and directed the book series “Veleta
al Sur”, the only poetical manifestation in Granada from 1957
until 1966. In 1982, together with Francisco Izquierdo, he
started a fascicle series about the Albayzín (the famous
historical district) called Los Papeles del Carro de San Pedro.
1994, he was awarded the ‘Premio Nacional de Literatura’ (National
Prize for Literature), for his book Los estados transparentes,
a prize which had only been previously awarded to one other
poet from Granada, Luis Rosales in 1951. In the same year
of 1994, he was also a finalist for the Premio Nacional de
la Crítica (National Book Critics Award). He had previously
been awarded, among others, the most important prizes of that
time: the Leopoldo Panero Prize in 1966, the Guipúzcoa
Prize in 1968, the Boscán Prize in 1968 and the Ciudad
de Barcelona Prize in 1969.
received the Medal of Honour of the ‘Real Academia de Bellas
Artes de Granada’ (Royal Academy of Fine Arts of Granada)
and is a member of the ‘Academia de Buenas Letras de Granada’
(Academy of Letters of Granada), of which he is a founding
His poems and articles have been translated into several languages.
One of his most important translations is I’m Speaking (Northwestern
University Press, Evanston, Illinois, 2001), a bilingual anthology
of his poetry, translated by Sandy McKinney.
Crítica de la Literatura Hispánica (Taurus Press),
Vol. 21 "La poesía en el siglo XX: desde 1939",
(A Critical History of Spanish Literature; vol. 21, “Poetry
in the XXth Century: since 1939”) Pilar Palomo studies him
under the epigraph "Poetas de los 50" (“Poets of
the 50s”), just as she had done when she expanded the book
Historia de la Literatura Española (Gustavo Gili Press)
(A History of Spanish Literature) by Angel Valbuena, who in
1968 had already devoted a long chapter to him as "one
of the best contemporary poets".
Pilar Gómez Bedate in Historia de la Literatura Española
(Cátedra Press) (A History of Spanish Literature),
Elena Barroso in Poesía Andaluza de hoy (1950-1990)
(Biblioteca de la Cultura Andaluza) (Present Andalusian Poetry
1950-1990) and Angel L. Prieto de Paula in Poetas españoles
de los cincuenta (Biblioteca Hispánica, Ediciones Colegio
de España, Salamanca), (Spanish Poets of the Fifties)
among other authors, rank him amongst the most important writers
of his generation.
Joaquín Marco, in Historia y Crítica de la Literatura
Española (History and Criticism of Spanish Literature)
(Grijalbo Press) by Francisco Rico, places him generically
among the “post-war poets” (“poetas de postguerra”) and Emilio
Miró, in Historia de la Literatura Española
(History of the Spanish Literature) (Taurus Press), coordinated
by Díez Borque, among those who "have achieved
an undisputed place in our poetic scene".
There is a large bibliography on his work, including monographs
and doctoral theses.
- 27 April: He is born in Granada, in San Juan de Dios Street
(on the corner of Cardenal Mendoza Street).
1935 - 20 November: His father dies.
1937 - May: He moves to La Zubia (a district
of Granada) because of the Spanish Civil War.
1938 - May, to December 1939: In Salobreña
(a village on the Granadian coast), staying with his uncle
Trinidad, with whom he lived because his mother found it hard
to get work.
1943 - 6 September: His mother gets him a
scholarship to study at the ‘Seminario de S. Cecilio’, led
by the Jesuits, where he follows his elementary education
(1st to 5th year), mostly Arts subjects.
1944 - His family finally settles in Granada
1948-49, He attends ‘Padre Suárez’
Grammar School, as an unenrolled student.
1949-50, He works in different jobs to help
1950 - 1 June: he enrols at the Escuela de
Comercio (Trade School), where he studies until 4th year.
1951 - 1 May: He starts working for the ‘Banco
1953 - Together with José G. Ladrón
de Guevara, Elena Martín Vivaldi, Julio Alfredo Egea,
José Carlos Gallardo, Miguel Ruiz del Castillo and
other poets, he founds the poetry group ‘Versos al aire libre’.
1955 - 15 March: He starts his military service
in Bilbao, and becomes a friend of Blas de Otero, who suggests
the title of his first book, Antes de la esperanza, published
the following year.
1957 - Together with José G. Ladrón
de Guevara, he founds the poetry series “Veleta al sur”.
1959 - 19 May: He marries Áurea Marcos
Álvarez, with whom he will have four children: Áurea,
Esperanza, Marina y Jorge.
1960 - 9 January: His mother dies.
1962 - November: He collaborates with Jaime
Gil de Biedma, José Agustín Goytisolo, Félix
Grande y Jaime Ferrán, in the first issue of the literary
magazine "La Trinchera", edited by José Batlló
1963 - He is awarded a prize: ‘II Premio
Internacional del Círculo de Escritores Iberoamericanos
de Nueva York’.
1964 - September: First visit to Morocco.
1965 - September: In Quezaltenango (Guatemala),
he receives the first prize in an International Hispanic-Central
American poetry contest. He stays several days in Mexico D.F.
1967 - 17 April: He receives in Madrid the
1966 ‘Leopoldo Panero’ poetry prize from Dámaso
Alonso, Gerardo Diego and Luis Rosales.
- 8 May: He is awarded a literature scholarship by the ‘Fundación
Juan March’ (Madrid) to work on his book Los vientos.
1968 - 115 to 18 September: Visit to Paris.
20 September: San Sebastian. He reads a lecture at the ‘I
Congreso Nacional de Escritores’.
September: He is awarded the ‘Boscán’ Prize and the
1970 - 26 January: He receives the 1969 ‘Ciudad
de Barcelona’ Prize.
1974 - October: Première by the Spanish
National Radio Orchestra and Choirs of his poem ‘Campanas
para Federico’, with music by Juan Alfonso García.
1976 - March: Member of the Organizing Committee
of the ‘First Public Homage to Federico García Lorca’,
held on the 6th of june.
1977 - 31 January to 11 February: He takes
part, in Paris, in the First ‘Jornadas Granadinas’ (UNESCO)
1978 - April: Second visit to Morocco, which
will be frequent in the following years.
1979 - July: The literary magazine "Litoral"
devotes a whole issue to his work, including his formerly
unpublished book Moheda, entries by Buero Vallejo, José
Luis Cano, Muñiz-Romero, Francisco Izquierdo, José
Asenjo Sedano, Ruiz- Copete, Molina Campos, and drawings by
Pérez Estrada, Cayetano Anibal, Brazam, Dolores Montijano,
Martinmorales, and others.
1982 - 7 November: Together with Francisco
Izquierdo, he starts "Los Papeles del Carro de San Pedro",
on the Albaycín (famous historical suburb in Granada).
1984 - 23 March to 14 June: He is a member
of the Promoting Committee “Granada por la Unión Europea"
(“Granada for the European Union”).
14 to 20 October: He takes part in the ‘VII World Conference
of Poets’, Marrakesh (Morocco), chaired by Leopoldo Sédar
Senghor, and with the participation of Jorge Luis Borges,
Günter Grass, and Eduardo Carranza.
1985 - He settles in his second residence
in Benalmádena-Costa (Málaga).
1987 - May: Visit to Italy.
1988 -February: Córdoba. Première
at the Mosque (the ‘Mézquita de Córdoba’) of
his “Cantata nº 4 (of the Albaycín)”, by the ‘Ciudad
de Córdoba’ Orchestra and the ‘Cátedra Manuel
1989 - October: Visit to Tunisia.
1990 - April: He moves his second residence
from Málaga to Almuñecar (Granada).
- May: Visit to England and Scotland.
1991 - June: He receives the ‘Medal of Honour’
of the Royal Academy of Fine Arts of Granada (‘Real Academia
de Bellas Artes Nuestra Señora de las Angustias’, Granada).
1 August: He takes early retirement from the Banco Hispano
September: He visits Portugal.
1992 - March: Visit to Thailand.
to Austria, Hungary, Czechoslovakia and Germany.
1993 - March-April: Expedition across the
Sahara Desert, through Algeria and Mauritania (University
of Granada Expedition).
September: Visit to Denmark, Sweden and Norway.
1994 - 8 April, Madrid: Finalist of the ‘Premio
Nacional de la Crítica’ (National Book Critics Award)
for his book Los estados transparentes.
18 April: Together with Francisco Izquierdo, Elena Martín
Vivaldi, Antonio Sánchez Trigueros, Antonio Carvajal
y Manuel Villar Raso, he is a member of the Steering Committee
which proposes the foundation of an ‘Academia de Buenas Letras
de Granada’ (‘Academy of Letters’) to the Regional Government
(‘Junta de Andalucía’). On September the 4th, 2001,
its creation is published in its bulletin, the BOJA (Decree
198/2001). On February the 9th, 2002, The Committee chooses
the first seven academicians.
May: Visit to India and Nepal.
July: Second visit to Norway (Cape North), Finland and Sweden.
14 November: He is awarded the ‘Premio Nacional de Literatura
(modalidad de Poesía)’ (National Prize for Literature
(Poetry)), for his book Los estados transparentes. He received
the prize in Madrid on April the 6th 1995, from the Minister
31 December: He is elected "Granadino Ideal del año"
(‘Granadian of the year’) by the local newspaper El Ideal.
1995 - March: Visit to China.
5 April: He reads and comments on his poems at the Residencia
de Estudiantes, Madrid, being introduced by José García
September: Visit to Bulgaria.
14 November: He takes part in the ‘III Encuentro de Escritores’,
at the Faculty of Arts of the "Rovira i Virgili"
University, Tarragona, and gives a lecture in the Main Hall.
1996 - January: Visit to Chile, Argentina,
Paraguay and Brazil.
May: Visit to France, Belgium, Holland, Germany and Switzerland.
September: Visit to Russia.
1997 - March: “Second visit to Thailand,
going up the river Mekong into Burma and Laos.
8 May: Together with Félix Grande, Antonio Hernández,
Jiménez, Leopoldo de Luis, Manuel Mantero, Fernando
Quiñones, José Ángel Valente and others,
he takes part in the "Encuentro sobre el Paisaje",
held in Hinojosa del Duque (Córdoba).
June: Ha visits Turkey.
September-October: Journey to Rumania.
1998 - January: Journey to The Antilles (Dominican
Republic, Puerto Rico, Virgin Islands, Guadalupe, Grenada
and Santa Lucia).
- 21 April, Jaén: Together with Pablo García
Baena and Manuel Urbano, he introduces the ‘Centro Andaluz
de las Letras’.
- 30 July: He takes part in the ‘XVI Simposio Internacional
de Literatura (Fronteras finiseculares en la literatura del
mundo hispánico)’, organised by the Instituto Cultural
Hispánico de Westminster (California), and held at
the Palacio de Linares, Madrid.
- October: Journey to Croatia, Slovenia and Bosnia-Herzegovina.
- October: He takes part in the ‘VI Taller Iberoamericano
de Poesía’, Holguín (Cuba), and lectures on
the 28th at the ‘Gran Teatro’, in Havana, during the ‘II Encuentro
Iberoamericano de Estudios Hispánicos’.
- 12 December: He gives a lecture at the ‘VI Congreso de Escritores
de España’, in Granada (Spain).
1999 - March: Visit to Egypt (Nile River
and Red Sea).
- June-July: He visits Mexico and Guatemala (Maya culture).
- 31 December: Chosen by the readers of the local Granadian
newspaper El Ideal as one of the "Hundred foremost Granadian
figures in the XXth Century”, being awarded a medal on December
the 9th 2000 at the ‘Manuel de Falla’ Concert Hall.
2000 - February-March: He visits Cartagena
de Indias and San Andres Island (Colombia).
- June-July: Visit to Singapore and Indonesia (Java and Bali).
2001 - March: Second visit to China, this
time including Hong Kong.
- 10 May: Together with Antonio Carvajal and Vicente Núñez
(Antonio Hernández as moderator), he takes part in
the round table on “Tres visiones musicales de la poesía
andaluza" (“Three musical visions of Andalusian poetry”),
at the ‘IV Encuentro de Poesía Actual Española’,
held in Puente Genil (Córdoba).
- July: Journey to Poland.
- 30 August: Lecture as part of the course "Multiculturalidad:
limpia", at the ‘Universidad Internacional de Andalucía’,
in Baeza (‘Antonio Machado’ Summer School).
- September-October: Visit to Canada.
- 2-4 November: He takes part in ‘The Washington D.C. International
Poetry Festival’ at the Jack Morton Auditorium, George Washington
University, Washington. Round table on translation, together
with the Rumanian poet Nina Cassian, translator and professor
Jonathan Chaves (G.W.U.), and translator Sandy McKinney. There
was also a reading of poems from his book "I'm Speaking”,
edited in the USA.
2002 - March: Second
visit to Egypt (Nile River and Lake Nasser to Abu Simbel).
- July: Third visit to Norway (fiords) and Denmark.
Granada, 9 de febrero de 2002. Comisión gestora de
la Academia de Buenas Letras de Granada, en el nombramiento
de los 7 primeros académicos. De izquierda a derecha:
Antonio Carvajal, Rafael Guillén, Antonio Sánchez
Trigueros y Francisco Izquierdo.