22. ilb 07. - 17.09.2022

Luis Chaves

Portrait Luis Chaves
© Hartwig Klappert

Luis Chaves was born in San José, Costa Rica in 1969 and is regarded as one of the leading contemporary writers of his country. After studying Agricultural Economics at the University of Costa Rica, he began working as a freelance writer and translator.

He published his first collection of poetry »El Anónimo« (tr. Anonymous) in 1996, followed a year later by the poetry volume »Los animales que imaginamos« (tr. The Animals We Imagine), which won the Premio de Literatura Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz. With his fourth book, »Chan Marshall«, written in 2005 during a stay in Buenos Aires, Argentina, Chaves conclusively secured his place among Latin America’s most important poetic voices. In Spain, where this collection appeared with the renowned publishing house Visor, he was honored with the Premio Fray Luis de León in the same year. Two collections of Luis Chaves’ poems have been published in German: »Das Foto« (2012; tr. The Photo) and »Hier drunter liegt was Besseres« (2013; tr. Something Better Lies Under This). As the title of another work, »Historias Polaroid« (2011; tr. Polaroid Stories) indicates, photography is one of the leitmotifs of his poetic oeuvre as a whole. Chaves’ poems deal with everyday occurrences in which he always finds something more: »an almost coincidental component that doesn’t want to fit, but steps out, that wounds as well as winning over«. A reviewer noted that the poems in »Debajo de esto hay algo mejor« (tr. Something Better Lies Under This) develop their deeper meaning only after the reader frees himself from the surface of the content and allows himself to enter into a dialog with the author, which, Chaves said in an interview, might enable someone seeking something to find it in his poems. After Chaves had already experimented with prose poems in »Asfalto« (tr. Asphalt), published first as poetry (2006) and then as short novel (2012), he published »El mundial 2010« (tr. The World of 2010), a chronicle of all the matches of the Soccer World Cup in South Africa. In 2010, he also published »300 Páginas« (tr. 300 Pages), another prose work of all the articles he wrote for national and international magazines between 2002 and 2010.

Chaves was also the editor of »Los Amigos de lo Ajeno« (idiomatic expression for »thieves«), a poetry magazine distributed primarily in Costa Rica and Argentina. Since 2006, he has headed the »Taller de Escritura Artesanal« (tr. Craft Writing Workshop). In 2012, Chaves’ book »La máquina de hacer niebla« (tr. The Fog Machine) won him Costa Rica’s National Poetry Prize. His short novel »Salvapantallas« (tr. Screensaver) published first in Costa Rica has been acquired by the prestigious publisher in Spanish language Seix Barral. He is a currently a guest of the DAAD Artists-in-Berlin Program with his wife and two daughters