Álvaro Mutis: Bogotá’s great poet

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Some of his best literary works includes Araucaíma, Ilona Llega con la Lluvia, Un Bel Morir, La Última Escala del Tramp Steamer and La Nieve del Almirante.

Álvaro Mutis was born on August 25th 1923. His legacy will be present for generations to come, not only because of his international fame, but because of most of his prose and poems. His best remembered character is “Maqroll the sailor”, a wandering traveler who is present in most of his texts.

The poet and writer spent his childhood in Brussels and his adolescence in Bogotá, where he discovered a taste for bohemian life. In 1948, he published his first poetry compilation, La Balanza, which dealt with the violence after the Bogotazo. In 1953, he published Los Elementos del Desastre, another poem collection where “Maqroll, the sailor” first appeared.

After working in other professions (journalist, anchor, and PR agent, among others), and rubbing shoulders with Colombia’s most important writers, Mutis fled to Mexico in 1956 because of legal issues. The problems did not subside, and he was captured and imprisoned for 15 months in Lecumberri prison. This is where his literary work flourished. After serving his sentence, he settled in Mexico City.

Mutis continued his literary path with successful pieces such as La Mansión de Araucaíma, Tríptico de Mar y Tierra, Ilona Llega con la Lluvia, Un Bel Morir, La Última Escala del Tramp Steamer, La Verdadera Historia del Flautista de Hammelin, Diario de Lecumberri, and La Nieve del Almirante.

His internationally known work has received awards such as the Xavier Villaurrutia, the Médicis to Best Foreign Novel in France for La Nieve del Almirante, and the Knight Commander of the Aztec Eagle Order in México (1988). He was also distinguished as Knight of Arts and Literature in France (1989). He received the Alfonso X the wise’s Great Spanish Cross (1996); the Queen Sophie Ibero-American Poetry Award; Italy’s Grizane-Cavour; the Prince of Asturias Literature Award (1997); the Cervantes Award (2001); and the Neustadt International Literature Award (2002).

Colombians will forever remember Álvaro Mutis’ works, for, as his great friend Gabriel García Márquez said: “We are all Maqroll”.

Learn more about Álvaro Mutis and discover why when it comes to literature, the answer is Colombia.