Born in Santiago, Chile, in 1893, Huidobro was educated at a Jesuit school, which later led to a profound spiritual crisis in the young man, as he revolted against his aristocratic Roman Catholic upbringing. He left for Paris in 1916, having published six books of poetry. Although the first four books had little new to offer, he had moved in the last years of his youth to develop the ideas, most clearly in Adán, which in Paris Pierre Reverdy, Huidobro and others would describe as "creationism."
Once in Paris, Huidobro (the pseudonym he had created for himself) began to contribute to the avant-garde literary magazines, particulary Sic and Nord-Sud, which he co-edited with Reverdy and Guillaume Apollinaire. During these early years he published six further books of poetry, including Horizon Carré, Tour Eiffel, and Hallali. Travel to Madrid in 1918 brought the attention the Spanish avant-gardists such as Gerardo Diego, Juan Larrea, and Jorge Luis Borges, who encouraged him. The result of this interchange was Ultraism, which would, in turn, influence the young Argentine poet, Oliverio Girondo.
Huidobro returned to Chile for one year in 1925, and became the editor of a newspaper and ran as candidate for the Chilean Federation of Students in the national elections. Upon his defeat, Huidobro returned to France, where he continued his writing, including several novels and other works in other genres.
In 1936 he participated in the Spanish Civil War on the side of the Republic. As the fall of the Republic became imminent, he returned to Chile, where he wrote his important satrical novel, Sátiro; o, El poder de las palabras (1939).
Huidobro's major poetic work was his long poem, Altazor, subtitled "Journey in a Parachute," published in Madrid in 1931. Like Joyce and other major avant-gardists, Huidobro's work is made up of a complex layering of word-play and puns. Even the title relates to the root words: alto (high), Asor (goshawk), while at the same, through its subtitle, suggesting the Icarus-like possibilities of the fall.
The poet's last two works, Ver y palpar (1941) and El ciudadano del olvido (1941) contain autobiographical and personal elements. He died in Cartagena in 1948.
BOOKS OF POETRY:
Ecos del alma (Santiago: Imprenta Chide, 1911); Canciones en la noche (Santiago: Imprenta Chile, 1913); La gruta de silencio (Santiago: Imprenta Chile, 1913); Las pagodas ocultas (Santiago: Imprenta Universitaría, 1914); Adán (Santiago: Imprenta Universitaría, 1916); El espejo de agua (Buenos Aires: Editorial Orión, 1916); Horizon Carré (Paris: Editions Paul Birault, 1917); Tour Eiffel (Madrid: Imprenta Pueyo, 1918); Hallali (Madrid: Ediciones Jesús López, 1918); Ecuatorial (Madrid: Imprenta Pueyo, 1918); Poemas articos (Madrid: Imprenta Pueyo, 1918); Saisons choisies (Paris: Editions Le Cible, 1921); Automne régulier (Paris: Editions Librairie de France, 1925); Tout a Coup (Paris: Editions Au Sans Pareil, 1925); Altazor: el viaje en paracaídas (Madrid: Campañía Iberoamericana de Publications, 1931); Temblor de Cielo (Madrid: Ediorial Plutarco, 1931); Ver y palpar (Santiago: Ediciones Ercilla, 1941); El ciudadano del Olvido (Santiago: Ediciones Ercilla, 1941); Antología de Vicente Huidobro (Santiago: Editorial Zig-Zag, 1945); Ultimos Poemas (Santiago: Talleres Gráficos Ahués Hnos, 1948); Poesías, edited with a prologue by Enrique Lihn (Havana: Casa de las Américas, 1968); Obras Completas de Vicente Huidobro (Santiago: Editorial Zig-Zag, 1964); Obras Completas de Vicente Huidobro (Santiago: Editorial Andres Bello, 1976)
ENGLISH LANGUAGE TRANSLATIONS:
The Relativity of Spring: 13 poems translated from the French , translated by Michael Palmer and Geoffrey Young (Berkeley, California: Sand Dollar, 1976); The Selected Poetry of Vicente Huidobro, edited by David Guss (New York: New Directions, 1981); Althazor, translated by Eliot Weinberger (Saint Paul, Minnesota: Graywolf Press, 1988); The Poet Is a Little God: Creationist Verse, translated by Jorge García-Gómez (Riverside, California: Xenos Books, 1990).