Badilla Castillo worked almost thirteen years at The Swedish Radio Broadcasting Co, as culture journalist, a concern that would lead later, to his work as a translator of Swedish and Scandinavian poetry, British and American poetry.
Badilla Castillo's father was a sailor from whom he got his nomadic motivation. Badilla Castillo travelled throughout Europe, North Africa and the Middle East during the twenty years he spent in Scandinavia. He settled for a while also in Romania in 1975, interested in ancient Wallachian and Transylvanian mythology.
Badilla Castillo made his living for several years working as a journalist and teacher when he returned to Chile in 1993.
In 1973 Badilla's first book of poetry, Amid the Cement and the Grass, was published in Valparaiso. Later, in 1980 he published his second book, Lower from my Branch, a collection of short stories, in Borås, Sweden, which received very good critical reviews.
Between 1981 and 1987 he published three of his Scandinavian influenced books: The Dwelling of the Sign, Oniric Song and Reverberations of Aquatic Stones. As well being a productive poet during this period he was also a respected translator of Swedish, Finnish, English, French and some Latin poetry. Badilla's initial topics were often tied to mythological or fabled subjects, while many of the poems featured legends. In Sweden, his poems were included in the first anthology of Chilean Poetry published by Bonnier in 1991.
His return from exile to Chile in 1993 marked a change for Badilla Castillo, in that he started to write in a much more autobiographical and manner. In his book Nordic Saga he changed his language completely. It was a period of awkward and challenging experimentation, with many legendary subjects derived from the mythological Viking’s Sagas. Badilla Castillo established contact with Rudy Rucker’s transrealism.
In Badilla Castillo's later volumes, such as The Fearful Gaze of the Bastard (2003), and Transreal Poems and Some Gospels (2005)), he confronts reality, creating an almost illusory world, where words, time and dimensional changes play a cardinal role in the lyrical frame. His latest poetry is solidly imaginary, using in many respects time dislocations and immediate perceptions of a certain described reality, and filled with admiration for the ordinary world. He now lives in Santiago, and one catches a glimpse of the effect of this South Pacific landscape everywhere in his latest poems, though the environment remains symbolic and individual.