Jorge Carrera Andrade was an Ecuadorian writer. During his life and after his death, he has been universally recognized as one of the twentieth century’s most important Latin American poets. He was born in Quito, Ecuador on September 18, 1903 and died in the same city on November 7, 1978. Muna Lee’s critically-acclaimed translation of his poem collection Secret Country (1946) brought him to prominence in the United States. He lectured at Stony Brook University in the Department of Romance Languages in 1970-1972, he also guest lectured at Harvard University and Vassar College during this period. Most of his poetry has been translated into French, German, Russian and English.
“The images of Jorge Carrera Andrade are so extraordinarily clear, so connected to the primitive I imagine I am…participating in a vision already lost to the world. It is a place melancholy but grand.”William Carlos William
Carrera Andrade first experienced traveling in Europe in 1928-1933. He served as Ecuadorian Consul in Peru, France, Japan and the United States. He later served as Ambassador to Venezuela, the United Kingdom, Nicaragua, France, Belgium, and the Netherlands. He also served as Secretary of State of Ecuador.
In the United States
Carrera Andrade first arrived in San Francisco, California in December of 1940 to serve as the Ecuadorian Consul General to the United States, leaving 4 years later to serve as Ecuador’s ambassador to Venezuela. During his time in the United States, Carrera Andrade developed many literary relationships with American writers, and his work was praised and championed by John Malcolm Brinnin, Dudley Fitts, H.R. Hays, James Laughlin, Muna Lee, Archibald MacLeish, Carl Sandburg, William Jay Smith, Wallace Stevens, Donald Walsh, and William Carlos Williams.
From 1952 to 1958, Carrera Andrade lived in Paris and worked at UNESCO. Carrera Andrade made short trips to the U.S. as part of his duties with UNESCO or as a delegate to the United Nations, but it was not until 1968-1971 that he lived there again for a significant period of time.
In 1969 Carrera Andrade was appointed Distinguished Visiting Professor at State University of New York at Stony Brook where he lectured for two academic years. He also gave lectured at Harvard University and Vassar College during this time. The University purchased from Carrera Andrade the collection of his written materials (produced between 1923 and 1970 and measuring 10.8 cubic feet) in 1969.
A short video bio of Jorge Carrera Andrade (Spanish audio)
Loneliness of Cities by Jorge Carrera Andrade
From Century Of The Death Of The Rose: Selected Poems, 1926-1976. Translated from the Spanish by Steven Ford Brown
Without knowing my number,
enclosed by walls and borders,
I walk around with a prisoner’s moon
and perpetual shadow chained to my ankle.
Living frontiers arise
a step beyond my footsteps.
There is neither north nor south, east or west,
only a multiplied loneliness exists,
a loneliness divided by a cipher of men.
Time’s race around the circus of the clock,
luminous navels of streetcars,
bells with athletic shoulders,
walls that spell out two or three colored words,
are the materials of loneliness.
Image of solitude:
bricklayer singing on a scaffold,
fixed raft in the sky.
Images of solitude:
a traveler submerged in a newspaper,
a waiter hiding a photograph in his vest pocket.
The city has a mineral appearance.
Urban geometry is less beautiful
than the geometry we learned at school.
A triangle, egg, cube of sugar
initiated us into a celebration of forms.
Circumferences only came later:
the first woman, and the first moon.
Where were you, loneliness,
that I never knew you before I turned twenty?
On trains, in mirrors, in photographs,
you are always at my side now.
Country people are less alone
because they are one with the land:
trees are their sons,
they see weather changes in their own flesh,
and are taught by the saints’ calendar of little animals.
This solitude is nourished by books,
solitary walks, pianos, and fragments of crowds,
by cities and skies conquered by machines,
sheets of foam
unfolding toward the limits of the seas.
Everything has been invented,
but nothing has been invented to deliver us from loneliness.
Playing cards guard the secret of garrets,
sobs are formed to be smoked away in a pipe,
and there have been attempts to inter solitude in a guitar.
It’s known that loneliness walks through vacant apartments,
has commerce with the clothing of suicides,
and confuses messages in the telegraph wires.
Awards and recognitions
- 1977: Eugenio Espejo Award, Ecuador’s national award.
List of works
- Poesia ultima, ed. with introduction, J. Enrique Qjeda, New York: Las Americas Publishing Co., 1968.
- Planetary Man, Quito: Editorial Elan, 1963.
- Family of Night, Paris: Libreria Espanola de Ediciones, 1953.
- Place of Origin, Caracas: Editions: Suma, 1944.
- Secret Country, Tokyo, Editions Aisa America, 1940.
- Anthology of Pierre Reverdy, Tokyo: Editions Asia America, 1939.
- Biography for The Use Of Birds, Paris: Cuadernos del Hombre Nuevo, 1937; French translation by Edmond Vandercammen, Brussels: Les Cahiers du Journal des Poetes, 1937. Read the original Spanish version for free here.
- Time Manual, Madrid: Editions Literatura: PEN Coleccion, 1935; French translation by Adolphe de Falgairolle, Paris: Editions Rene Debresse, 1936. Read the original Spanish version here.
- Earth and Sea Bulletines (Foreword by Gabriela Mistral), Barcelona: Editorial Cervantes, 1930.
- Indian Poems, Quito: Editorial Elan, 1928.
- Wreath of Silence, Quito: Casa de la Cultura Ecuatoriana, 1926.
- La hora de las ventanas iluminadas (1937). Read the original Spanish version for free here.
- Microgramas: Precedidos de un Ensayo y seguidos de una selección de haikais japoneses (1940) Read the original Spanish version for free here.
- Registro del mundo: Antología poética, 1922-1939 (1940), Read the original Spanish version for free here.
- Rol de la manzana: Poesías (1926-1929) (1935) Read the original Spanish version for free here.
- The Volcano and The Hummingbird, Puebla, Mexico: Editorial Jose M. Caijica Jr., S.A., 1970.
- Interpretations of Hispano-America, Quito: Casa de la Cultura Ecuatoriana, 1967.
- Latitudes, Quito: Talleres Graficos Nacionales, 1934; Buenos Aires: Editor “Parseo”,1940. Read the original Spanish version here.
- History (A three volume history of Ecuador)
- The Kingdom of Quito or Street of The Sun, Quito: Case de la Cultura Ecuatriana, 1963.
- Gallery of Mystics and Insurgents, Quito: Casa de la Ecuatoriana, 1959.
- Earth Always Green, Paris: Ediciones Internacionales, 1955.
- Guía de la joven: poesía ecuatoriana, 1939. Read the original Spanish version here.
- Traveller Through Countries and Books, Quito: Casa de la Cultura Ecuatoriana, 1961.