23. ilb 06. – 16.09.2023

Tomás Segovia

Tomás Segovia was born in 1927 in Valencia.  Very early in his life, during the Spanish Civil War, he emigrated to France and Morocco.  Segovia has kept up the contacts he established here, especially with French culture and language.  In 1940 he chose exile in Mexico.  In Mexico-City he studied until 1954 philosophy and Spanish-written literature.

Tomás Segovia’s first publications of lyric poetry in 1945 fell within one of the most important periods of Mexican literature, a period in which, particulary under the influence of the authors Octavio Paz and Efrain Huerta, lyric poetry became the most important form of expression.  Testimony to this are the numerous lyric poetry periodicals which appeared at this time and in which Segovia played an important part.  He worked, for example, as chief editor of the periodical ‘Plural’, published by Octavia Paz, and was co-founder of the periodical ‘Presencia’ and editor of ‘Hoja poética’.

After his studies Segovia taught not only at UNAM (Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México) but also at the ‘Institut Français d’Amérique Latine’ and ‘Alliance Française’. There followed a four-year stay in Uruguay and subsequently in France. In 1966, the year he retuned to Mexico, he was awarded a grant by the ‘Guggenheim-Foundation’ and took up a research position at the ‘Colegio de México’ where he remained as a literary scholar, with just a period as guest professor at the University of Princeton, until he retired in 1984. He translated works by Breton, Lacan, Derrida and Foucault and so had a decisive influence on contemporary theoretical debates in Mexico.

Also, Tomás Segovia has made a name for himself through his translations of French poetry.  His most important work as a translator is the Spanish edition of the works of Gerard de Nerval. He has been honoured several times for his achievements regarding French-Mexican cultural relations: on two occasions he has received the ‘Alfonso-X-Prize’ for literary translations and in 1982 was accepted into the ‘Ordre de Culture Française’.

Tomás Segovia has published more than twenty volumes of poems, as well as several prose texts, a drama, essays and a number of articles.  The central theme in his writing is the experience of exile: “Exile has for me both ontological and historical significance.  It is like an entrance examination, it bans us from our own country so that we will set up home elsewhere. We get thrown out of our security so that we may find a home elsewhere.”

Since 1988 Tomás Segovia has been living with his wife once again in Spain.  The positive reaction of Spanish critics to the appearance of the self-edited, self-published edition of his works, ‘Poesía 1943-1997’ as well as the award of the highly regarded ‘Octavia-Paz- Prize’ (2000) indicates that his work has after all found high esteem in his homeland. He was awarded the Premio Juan Ruolfo in 2005. Segovia lives in Madrid.

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