Hugo Cuevas-Mohr was born on July 8, 1955 in Guatemala, Central America. His maternal family, of French origin, settled in Guatemala at the end of the century, more specifically in Quetzaltenango where they dedicated themselves to the cultivation and processing of coffee. Her mother arrived in Guatemala at age 14. After high school she went to study in Canada, where she met Hugo Cuevas Gamboa, both foreign students at McGill University.
They got married in 1953 in Guatemala City and stayed in that country for a few years before settling in Cali, Colombia, where Hugo’s father was from.
His father is a descendant of the Gamboa family, which has several poets to his credit, from Isaías Gamboa – author of “Tierra Nativa” published before his death in 1904, and to whom Cali dedicated a park where his statue is – Octavio Gamboa, a renowned poet and author of countless books of poetry, Margarita Gamboa – his grandmother – and other family members, such as Mateo Gamboa, Hugo Gamboa, Miguel Fernando Caro Gamboa. Hugo will recover the history of all the poets of the family in his book Los Gamboa: Una Dinastía de Poetas, published in 2010).
Hugo studied at the Lycée Français Paul Valery de Cali and then traveled to the United States in 1972 where he obtained his Bachelor’s Degree in Biology with a minor in English Literature at the Worcester Polytechnic Institute in Massachusetts. He later got his Master’s degree at Auburn University in Alabama in 1978. In 1980 he traveled to Belgium to study a postgraduate degree in Development at the Université Catholique de Louvain.
In 1981 he wrote his book impresiones (impressions) in Mallorca, Spain and returned to Colombia where it was published. Then it will come en el andén (on the sidewalk) two years later. At this time he worked with UNICEF in a development program on the Colombian Pacific Coast and later as a teacher.
In 1984 he met his life partner with whom he lived for more than thirty years; first they settled in Cali and in 1988 Daniela (his daughter) was born and Hugo published de puerta en puerta (from door to door), his third book of poems. In 1987 he began his work in the field of family remittances and migration, first in the family exchange business and later as an expert and lecturer on this subject. He published a book on the subject Enviando Dinero (Sending Money: Forex, Remittances, Migration and the Fintech Revolution) in 2022 and the English edition should appear in 2023.
In 1992, due to the violence and insecurity in Colombia, the three of them traveled to the United States where they began a new life in South Florida. In 1994 his son Gabriel was born and in 1998 he published en nuestra casa (in our house), his fourth book, where he compiled the poems written in Cali before his departure for the United States.
In 2001, Hugo worked on the production of an album of poems set to music by Massimiliano Agelao -an Italian musician and composer- and together they produced cuántos poemas (how many poems), which they premiered in November 2002. Hugo comments on this experience: “The idea of this work was to bring poetry to a free and magical encounter with music, in an overflight of voices and sensations, to bring the written word closer to the ear and soul of the people who do not approach poetry confined in books”. The album is available on Spotify, Apple Music, etc.
In 2004, he organized the Cali Poetry Festival, a tribute to the centenary of the birth of the poet Isaías Gamboa (1904 – 2004) and the First National Prize for Young Poets in Colombia. He is invited to the Bogotá Book Fair in 2005 for Poetas en la Diáspora (poets in the diaspora), which brought together Colombian poets residing in many countries and the book poemas de amor (love poems) is published, which compiles the best love poems from his previous books.
That same year, he organized Declamación Bogotá 2005, a Poetry Declamatory Contest, sponsored by the Bogota District Education Department and with the participation of thousands of students from all over the city.
At the end of 2005, he began with the Cuban singer and composer, Ana María García, the album “Poesía Necesaria” (Necessary Poetry), again with the participation of the Italian musician Massimiliano Agelao. This album has music poems by major Latin American and Spanish poets and was released in 2007. The album is also available on Spotify, Apple Music, etc. and a video series was published in Youtube in 2021.
During these years and with the initial support of Massmiliano Agelao, he created Grupo Musicalizando, a group of young musicians and singers from Cali who presented songs and poems from the authors albums and other poems that the group set to music themselves. The group was formed by Guillermo Enrique Quiceno, on keyboards, Lorena Mazuera, vocal soloist and flutist, Mauricio Gómez, male soloist, Julio Andrés Quiceno on guitars, Juan Diego López on percussion, William Andrés Vega on declamation and coordinated by Natalia Campo, who produced the album desconectado (unplugged) that compiles the group’s recordings. The video of Neruda’s Poem 15 made by the group is one of the most viewed poems on You Tube and has more than 2.5 million views.
In 2008 he published his poetic work “más allá del mar” (beyond the sea). This work has several representations: a text version (the book), an album, a visual presentation (video series of poems) and a graphic exhibition. The work was launched in Cali, Colombia in November 2008 and was presented at the Guadalajara Book Fair in Mexico, in December of that same year.
In December 2009, Hugo published with writer and historian Vicente Pérez Silva, the book Los Gamboa: Una Dinastía de Poetas (Los Gamboa: A Dynasty of Poets) that compiles biographical notes and an anthology of poems of more than thirty poets from five generations of the Gamboa Family, from the poet Isaías Gamboa, who died in 1904, to contemporary poets. This family tradition is “unprecedented” in Latin America.
In 2012, Hugo launched al margen del silencio (on the margins of silence) with presentations in Colombia (Cali and Bogotá). Hugo led a group of poetry lovers in 2013 the first edition of viajes a la poesía, a poetic trip following the path of Pablo Neruda, visiting his houses and meeting experts in the subject.
In 2022, Hugo published his poetry book de aquí al horizonte (from here to the horizon), a book of poems on the poet’s pilgrimages, and long walks.
Hugo is preparing a book on oral poetry and declamation that he hopes to finish soon, as well as other poetic works that are waiting to see the light of day. A work of poems set to music is also in production. He continues making video-poems that he publishes on his YouTube Channel where there are also many of his interviews and presentations.