The youngest of five brothers, Homero Aridjis was born in 1940 in the village of Contepec, Michoacán, Mexico, to a Mexican mother and a Greek father. He began writing at the age of 11, after surviving an accident that nearly cost him his life. He won a scholarship from the Mexican Writers’ Centre at the age of 19, and in 1964 was the youngest-ever recipient of the Xavier Villaurrutia Prize for best book of the year, for »Mirándola dormir« (tr: Watching Her Sleep), a classic of erotic poetry. After two years in Europe on a Guggenheim scholarship, he taught at American universities before entering the Mexican diplomatic service and serving as ambassador to Switzerland and then The Netherlands, while still in his thirties. Back in Mexico, in 1985 Aridjis and 99 other renowned artists and intellectuals founded the legendary Grupo de los Cien, an activist organization that addresses national and international environmental and ethical issues. He served two terms as president of PEN International between 1997 and 2003, during which he strove to make PEN less Eurocentric. Aridjis was Mexico’s ambassador to UNESCO from 2007 until 2010, and since then has lived in Mexico City.
In addition to nineteen volumes of poetry and seventeen novels, Aridjis has written children’s books, essays, and plays, and for many years was an editorial page columnist for Mexican newspapers “La Jornada” and »Reforma«. His work has been translated into fifteen languages and recognized with literary prizes such as the Grinzane Cavour in Italy, for »1492: Vida y tiempos de Juan Cabezón de Castilla« (1985; Eng. »1492: The Life and Times of Juan Cabezón of Castile«, 1991; German “1492 – Die Abenteuer des Juan Cabezón von Kastilien”, 1992). In 1997 he received the Prix Roger Caillois in France, and in 2002 the Smederevo Golden Key poetry prize. In 2013, 2016 and 2019 translations of two recent books received international poetry awards in Italy. A wide-ranging bilingual anthology of his poetry was published in England (2001) and the United States (2002) under the title, »Eyes to See Otherwise: Selected Poems of Homero Aridjis«, and “Augen eines anderen Schauens” came out in Germany in 2009. In 2012 “Tiempo de ángeles/A Time of Angels” was published by Fondo de Cultura Económica and City Lights. Kenneth Rexroth called Aridjis a »visionary poet of lyrical bliss, crystalline concentrations and infinite spaces.«
A champion of grey whales, monarch butterflies, sea turtles, and rain forests, Aridjis has been nicknamed the »green conscience« of his country. His passionate defense of the Earth has been acknowledged with numerous international awards, including the UNEP Global 500 Award, the Orion Society’s John Hay Award, and the Millennial Award for International Environmental Leadership given by Mikhail Gorbachev.
News of the Earth (2017) is an autobiography of his relationship with the natural world through his extensive writings and 33 years of activism as founder and president of the Group of 100, a historical record of the group’s battles and victories and a chronicle of the rise of environmental awareness in Mexico. Aridjis has written, “I have often felt like Sisyphus, confronting the same environmental problems over and over again, or Cassandra, prophesying disaster, or Don Quijote, because we sometimes seem like madmen tilting at windmills. Although the plant and animal species we defend, or the rivers and forests, will never know we defended them, often at risk to our lives, “in dreams begins responsibility,” as William Butler Yeats wrote, and for me there is nothing more tyrannical than a dream.”
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