We are delighted to announce the addition of a fourth speaker to our line-up of keynote addresses. Homero Aridjis, widely regarded as one of Mexico’s greatest living poets and writers, will be giving a talk on the final day of the conference (Friday June 9th). Homero has published over 48 books of poetry and prose that have been translated into some twenty different languages, including Memorias del nuevo mundo, which was awarded the Diana-Novedades Prize for an Outstanding novel in Spanish. Seamus Heaney once remarked that to read Homero’s poetry is “to open a door into light,” and Homero’s work has consistently grappled with how to find hope on a planet increasingly destabilized by the violence of war and environmental degradation.
Along with Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Octavio Paz, and others, Homero was a founding member of the “Group of 100” in the 1980’s: a pioneering collective of Latin-American artists and writers who came together to advocate for the protection of ecological biodiversity in Central and South America. The Group of 100, under Homero’s leadership as president, was instrumental in protecting critical monarch butterfly habitat and instituting a ban on the killing of endangered sea turtles (just to mention two among many conservation victories instigated by the Group of 100’s efforts). He has been a pioneer and leading public intellectual for Mexican civil society, the President of PEN International, and further served as the Mexican ambassador to the Netherlands and Switzerland.
Currently the honorary president of the Swedenborg Society in London (a distinction once held by Henry James), Homero’s poetry has long explored the poetic and imaginative possibility of angels, causing his work to join a line of Modernist poetics that arcs back to Rainer Maria Rilke’s Duino Elegies, the paintings of Paul Klee, and the intermittent angels present in the contemporaneous work of the Swedish poet Tomas Tranströmer (who was a close friend of Homero’s). Homero’s Time of Angels was recently translated into English and brought out in the U.S. by City Lights in San Francisco; another important collection in English, An Angel Speaks, was published by Swedenborg Society, and features an essay on Homero’s work and impact by Nobel Prize winner J-M. G. Le Clézio (who famously mentioned Swedenborg in his 2008 Nobel lecture in Stockholm); An Angel Speaks also includes a transcript of a Q&A, held at Swedenborg Hall in London in 2011, in which Homero discusses the inspiration behind his work, his groundbreaking environmental activism, and also his key literary influences. We greatly look forward to continuing the conversation with Homero this June in Bryn Athyn.