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Baquero, Gastón (1914-1997) | University of Miami Finding Aids

Name: Baquero, Gastón (1914-1997)

Historical Note:

Distinguished Cuban poet, essayist and journalist Gastón Baquero was born in Banes, in the province of Oriente, in 1914. He completed a degree in Agricultural Engineering at the University of Havana, but decided early in his life to devote himself to journalism and literature.

He was a member, along with other renowned authors such as José Lezama Lima and Virgilio Piñera, of the group of intellectuals that took its name from the review Orígenes, an emblem of Cuban culture in the 1940s. He collaborated in other literary journals such as Verbum, Espuela de plata and Clavileño.

Baquero published his first book of poems, Poemas, in 1942, which soon won him recognition and praise for the of poems like "Testamento del pez" and "Saúl sobre la espada." By the end of the 1940s decade and through the fifties he was respected as an intellectual, having earned a reputation both for his poetry and for his influential column “Panorama” which appeared regularly at El Diario de la Marina, of which he became editor.

His ideological disagreement with the government of Fidel Castro was immediate, and he left the country in 1959 as an exile. His work was obliterated from all records of Cuban literature including university curricula. At his new place of residence in Madrid, Spain he lived in almost total anonymity for years in spite of the admiration of many Spanish authors for his work.

In Spain, Baquero worked at Instituto de Cultura Hispánica and Radio Exterior de España, wrote articles regularly for several publications, primarily Mundo Hispánico, and taught at the School of Journalism. He published Poemas escritos en España in 1960, a collection of essays on Latin American authors in 1961, and one of his most highly praised works, Memorial de un testigo, in 1966. In 1984 a collection of his works was compiled and published under the title Magias e invenciones.

In 1988 Baquero was nominated for the prestigious Premio Príncipe de Asturias de las Letras. A collection of his essays in two volumes, Indios, blancos y negros en el caldero de America, was published in 1991 and Autoantología comentada in 1992. He became a finalist to the 1992 Premio Nacional de Literatura in poetry for Poemas invisibles, and was nominated for other important awards such as the Reina Sofía. In 1993 the Fray Luis de León Poetry Chair of the University of Salamanca celebrated a week-long conference in honor of his poetic works. Other tributes included the inclusion of two volumes of his work in the Obras maestras collection of Fundación Central Hispano.

Not until 1994, however, was his work recognized in his native Cuba, when a conference about his poetry was held at the University of Havana for the first time since he left the country. Baquero died in Madrid on May 15, 1997.

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