Teillier was born in southern Chile of French ancestry, and grew up preparing to be a professor of history. The writer Teófilo Cid (1914-1964) introduced him to surrealism, and the student abandoned history for poetry. Although his father was a militant communist, Teiller himself preferred to forego ideology in his work, focusing instead on the formal. However, he sympthazied with the Popular Front, and his daughter was exiled.
He died on April 23, 1996, just two months short of his sixtieth birthday. The critic Carlos Olivárez described him as "unarguably the first poet of the nation" and spoke of the pilgrimages young poets would make to the ranch outside of Santiago de Chile, where Teillier spent his last years. His books of poems include Para ángeles y gorriones (For Angels and Sparrows; 1956), El cielo cae con las hojas (The Sky Falls with the Leaves; 1958); El árbol de la memoria (The Tree of Memory; 1961), Poemas del país de nunca jamás (1963, From the Country of Nevermore, 1990); Los trenes de la noche y otros poems (The Trains of Night and Other Poems; 1964), Poemas secretos (Seceret Poems; 1965), Crónica del forastero (Foreigner's chronicle; 1968), Muertes y maravillas (Deaths and Marvels; 1971), Para un pueblo fantasma (For a Phantom People; 1978), Cartas para rinas de otras primaveras (Letters for Queens of Other Springtimes; 1985), El molino y la higuera (The Mill and the Fig Tree; 1992); and Hotel Nube (Hotel Cloud; 1996), as well as several collections published in Mexico, Peru, and El Salvador.
BOOKS OF POETRY
Para ángeles y gorriones (1956); El cielo cae con las hojas (1958); El árbol de la memoria (1961); Poemas del país de nunca jamás (1963); Los trenes de la noche y otros poemas (1964); Poemas secretos (1965); Crónica del forastero (1968); Muertes y maravillas (Editorial Universitaria, 1971); Para un pueblo fantasma (Valparaíso: Ediciones Universitarias de Valparíso, 1978); Cartas para reinas de otras primaveras (Edictiones Manieristas, 1985); El molino y la higuera (1992); Hotel Nube (1996).
ENGLISH LANGUAGE TRANSLATIONS
From the Country of Nevermore: Selected Poems of Jorge Teillier, trans. by Mary Crow (Hanover, New Hampshire: Wesleyan University Press/University Press of New England, 1990);In Order to Talk with the Dead, trans. by Carolyne Wright (Austin: University of Texas Press, 1993).