Life and work: Efraín Jara Idrovo (1926)

       Efraín Jara Idrovo was born in Cuenca, Ecuador, in 1926, to a merchant and a schoolteacher. He studied philosophy, literature and law and, parallel to being a poet and critic, he made a career in education as a literature teacher and professor.

In 1946 he started publishing his poetry while being part of Elan, a group of local emerging writers, and, on behalf of University of Cuenca, where he was studying, he published his first poetry book, titled El tránsito de la ceniza (1947). A second book of this early period was Rostro de la ausencia, which was published in 1948. The same year, he traveled to Galapagos Islands for the first time, as part of a group of students of Universidad de Cuenca, who were visiting prisons in the islands. The poet was profoundly impressed by this visit.

Back in Cuenca, he graduated from law school but he gradually felt overwhelmed by his bohemian lifestyle (as he stated) and this led him to choose to return to Galapagos four years later, as a way to distance himself from his life in the city. Back in Floreana Island he helped to establish an elementary school and worked as a teacher. In 1955 he returned to Ecuador and married Atala Jaramillo. After this, he returned to Floreana Island and worked as a fisherman and continued his researching and writing about poetry and language. Jara Idrovo was constantly travelling from Floreana Island to Cuenca during this period. His son Pedro was born in 1958 and his youngest son Johnny was born in 1956.

       In the following years, he continues to publish his poetry in Añoranza y acto de amor (1973) and Balada de la hija y las profundas evidencias (1975), after a period of reflecting about intimacy and experimenting with form.

       His first son, Pedro, commited suicide in 1974 and from that moment on, the statements and topics of Jara Idrovo’s poetry drastically changed. sollozo por pedro jara: estructuras para una elegía was published in 1978. It can be seen as his masterpiece because of its expressiveness and the meticulous work done on structure, which was inspired by musical serialism, specifically by Stockhausen’s Klavierstück XI and Boulez’s Piano Sonata No. 3, as stated by the poet. This poem consists of 63 verses divided into 5 series, and each series has three parallel developments. In the first edition of this poem, Jara Idrovo shares suggestions on how the poem could be read and combined and this is interesting, especially, for the oral performance of this piece and for interdisciplinary approaches.

       In 1980, he published El mundo de las evidencias, a collection of his work until 1970 and Alguien dispone de su muerte in 1980, where he states that he would like to return to Galapagos to spend this final period of his life. His last poetry book, Los rostros de Eros, was published in 1997. Jara Idrovo has been travelling back and forth from Cuenca to Galapagos Islands until recent years. Until 2017, he lived in Cuenca close to his son Johnny.


Jaime Montesinos, "Efraín Jara Idrovo: Su evolución poética", Revista Iberoamericana LVI, no. 144-145 (Fall 1988): 851-63, accessed June 9, 2016.

[Efraín Jara Idrovo, El mundo de las evidencias, (Cuenca, Ecuador: Casa de la Cultura Ecuatoriana "Benjamín Carrión", Núcleo del Azuay, 1984), 272.

© 2020 tomás proaño

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