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Biography

          Rafael 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.
          In 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.
         He has 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 member.
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.

        In Historia 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".
          Similarly, 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.
          Moreover, 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.


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Cronología

1933 - 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 his mother.
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 Hispano Americano’
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 in Seville.
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 ‘Guipúzcoa’ Prize.

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 Medina’ Choir.
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 Americano
September: He visits Portugal.

1992 - March: Visit to Thailand.
       September: Visit 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 of Culture.
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 Velasco.
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, Diego Jesús
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: La mirada
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.


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