Friday, October 12, 2007

Porfirio Barba-Jacob
Miguel Ángel Osorio Benítez (July 29, 1883January 14, 1942), better known by his pseudonym, Porfirio Barba-Jacob, was a Colombian poet and writer.
Born in Santa Rosa de Osos, Antioquia, to parents Antonio María Osorio and Pastora Benítez, he was raised up by his grandparents in Angostura. In 1895 he started a journey, first through Colombia, and after 1907 to Central America and the US, which ended in 1930 when he settled down in Mexico City.
Towards 1902 he founded, in Bogotá, the literary magazine "El cancionero antioqueño" (The Antioquian songbook), which he managed under the pseudonym Marín Jiménez. Short after this foundation, he wrote the novel "Virginia", which was never published because the original manuscript was confiscated by the mayor of Santa Rosa for alleged immorality.
In 1906 he moved to Barranquilla where he adopted the pseudonym Ricardo Arenales. This pseudonym would last until 1922, when in Guatemala he changed it to the pseudonym which he would use for the rest of his life: Porfirio Barba-Jacob. Towards 1907, still in Barranquilla, he wrote his first poems, such as "Árbol viejo", "Campiña florida", and his most famous work - "Parábola de la vida profunda" (Parable of the deep life).
In his journey through Central America, Mexico and the US, he contributed to many magazines and journals. He befriended Porfirio Díaz, so he had to flee to Guatemala, from where he fled again, this time to Cuba, for disagreeing with Manuel Estrada.
In 1918 he returned to Mexico, where it is said that he wrote a biography of Pancho Villa. In 1922 he was expelled by Álvaro Obregón and fled again to Guatemala, from where he was again expelled in 1924 by Jorge Ubico. Barba-Jacob then went to El Salvador, and after being deported by Alfonso Quiñones, he had to travel to Honduras, New Orleans and Cuba. In 1927 he went back to Colombia; after some recitals and contributions to the Colombian journal El Espectador, he left Colombia on what would be his last trip.
He died in 1942 of tuberculosis in Mexico City. Four years after his death, on January 11, 1946, his ashes were claimed by the Colombian government, and were given back in the Rotonda de los Hombres Ilustres.

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