José Emilio Pacheco Berny was born in Mexico City on June 30, 1939. He is a poet, fiction writer, essayist, journalist, translator, and university professor. At a very young age he began to stand out as one of the key members of the so-called Half Century Generation in his country. He studied law and literature at the National Autonomous University of Mexico, where he published his first literary texts in student-run magazines. Later on, he wrote for Ramas Nuevas, the supplement of the magazine Estaciones, was Assistant Editor of the Revista de la Universidad de México, and was Editor-in-Chief of the supplement México en la Cultura.
[su_spoiler title=”José Emilio Pacheco”]His weekly articles for the magazine Proceso, which appeared for various decades, are one of the best examples of cultural journalism in Latin America. He was a researcher for the Department of Historical Studies at the National Institute of Anthropology and History, an experience that brought about the notable publications, La poesía mexicana del siglo XIX (1965) and Antología del Modernismo, 1884-1921 (1978). He has taught at universities in Mexico, the United States, Canada and the United Kingdom. He has received honorary doctorates from the Mexican universities Autonomous of Nuevo León (2009), Autonomous of Campeche (2010) and National Autonomous of Mexico (2010), and was awarded the Alfonso Reyes Prize from the College of Mexico (2011). He was a member of the National College in his country and Distinguished Professor of the Department of Spanish at the University of Maryland in the United States.
He was the author of fifteen books of poetry, all accounted for in the present anthology, with poems selected by the author himself. Additionally, he has published the short story collections La sangre de Medusa y otros cuentos marginales (1959), El viento distante (1963), El principio del placer (1972) and Tarde de agosto (1992); the novels Morirás lejos (1967) and Las batallas en el desierto (1981); and the book of essays El derecho a la lectura (1994). Many of his books have come out in German, French, English, Japanese and Russian. He has translated into Spanish works by Albert Einstein, T. S. Eliot, Samuel Beckett and Evgeny Eytuschenko, among others. He has received numerous noteworthy awards, including the Magda Donato Prize (1967), the Aguascalientes National Poetry Prize (1970), the Xavier Villaurrutia Prize (1973), the National Journalism Prize (1980), the National Prize of Arts and Sciences (1992), the Octavio Paz Prize for Poetry and Essay (2003), the Ramón López Velarde Prize for Ibero-American Poetry (2003) and the Alfonso Reyes International Prize (2004), all in Mexico. Other Spanish-speaking countries have honored him with the José Asunción Silva Prize (1996), in Colombia; the José Donoso Prize for Ibero-American Literature (2001) and the Pablo Neruda Prize for Ibero-American Poetry (2004), in Chile; and the Federico García Lorca International Poetry Prize (2005) and the Reina Sofía Prize for Ibero-American Poetry (2009), in Spain. As the culmination of such an extraordinary life’s work, in 2009 he received in Madrid the Miguel de Cervantes Literature Prize, the most important award given to a writer in the Spanish language.
Pacheco died on January 26, 2014 in Mexico City.