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Robinson Quintero

Robinson Quintero

Robinson Quintero

(Colombia, 1959)
Robinson Quintero studied journalism, has published three books of poems and has written essays about Colombian and Latin American poets. He is soon to publish a book of interviews with thirteen Colombian poets— and his own poems have been published in Colombian and foreign magazines and included in several anthologies. He compiled and wrote the catalogue of an important memorial exhibition at the centenary of José Asunción Silva and has also directed various poetry workshops.
The poetry of Robinson Quintero expresses gratitude to the world and, perhaps more precisely, to life. The poet takes the elements he has to hand, his sensory perceptions, and arranges them in poetic form, threading them into the music of a very personal language. His poetry treats the reader as his equal, in a dialogue more focussed on the visual than literary terms or transcendent realities. Life courses through it, naturally, supported by the weightlessness of an instant, not by a desire to encompass it.

In De viaje (Traveling) he had already written about his childhood in the town where he was born:

Then in idle afternoons
lying on the red grass
under the insistent perfume of the trees
it was not the restlessness of a world
more boastful
the ambition of a higher dream
than the bird of the sky
but the quiet
the tempting fleeing of the sunset in the hills
the song of relaxation
taken by the birds until night


And in Hay que cantar (One Must Sing) he wrotes in the poem entitled ‘Poetry’: “…They do not praise you in the market / of trades / And when the apprentice seems to have more company /the more he feels like talking alone / However, to drive away in others / evil / pain / makes you one of the most beautiful disciplines… / If you write to me my friends sing / around me / my conscience is kinder / and beauty upsets all appearance.”

Robinson Quintero makes the minor key a virtue of good poetry;  he does not build artificially but instead allows the poem to arise from a vital throbbing, from his instinctive enjoyment of language. This natural enjoyment almost always expresses joy, although he may talk about sadness, or misfortune too. Thus, in ‘Tres árboles (Invocación en la muerte de mis hermanos)’ [Three Trees (Invocation on the Death of my Brothers)] he writes:

of the three you leave the one with the least
strong trunk
the one slow in giving fruit
the one with the thinnest foliage.
Make firm my roots
look after my sap
allow birds to come
and sing
so that those who come
may enjoy my shadow.

His ambition is to throw light on the life of others and of his readers. He is a poet whose words reinvent the joy of belonging to the world and go about singing the praises of a trade through intimate observation of the landscape, in the sleepy thoughts of a truck driver, or in the music the wind invents in a girl’s skirts.

The perfect crowning touch is the small poem that ends his book La poesía es un viaje (Poetry is a Trip), ‘Driver’: “Here lies / who taught / not the world / but a way of looking at it.”
© Luis Germán Sierra (Translated by Nicolás Suescún)

De viaje, Fundación Simón y Lola Guberek, Bogota, 1994.
Hay que cantar, Cooperativa Editorial Magisterio, Bogotá, 1998.
La poesía es un viaje, Revista de poesía Golpe de dados número CLXXXII. March-April 2003, Bogota.

Links  (in Spanish)

International Poetry festival of Medellin

International Poetry festival of Medellin

Literatura ecuatoriana

Virtual Library Luis Ángel Arango. Review of La poesía es un viaje
Gemeente Rotterdam
Nederlands Letterenfonds
Stichting Van Beuningen Peterich-fonds
Ludo Pieters Gastschrijver Fonds
Lira fonds
LantarenVenster – Verhalenhuis Belvédère