La poesía y el poder / Alexis Romero

Poetry and Power

There are realities that transcend places and eras; realities that are the secret columns of history; the sources of human hatreds and love affairs. Among them is the one overwhelmingly and unmistakably revealed by the deep and radical relation between Poetry and Power. The former proclaims engagement, kindness and forgiveness; the latter, disengagement, violence and vengeance. Poetry exists to dilute Power; the latter, to dissolve Poetry. She erases social frontiers; he builds them. One supports the tradition of memory and its transformations; the other loots it and empties its testimonies. Verb against verboid; reality against simulacrum. The hand that joins with the immobilizing fist. Nothing has been done, nor will be, to create the possibility of a community whose fundamentals of coexistence emerge from the dialogue between the spirit’s grace and the body’s disgrace. Because if Poetry has always been an act of thankfulness: Power has constituted the violence of vengeance.

A country where Power governs, if not Authority, is a place where goodness and tenderness are killed every day. A sick government that sickens its citizens (Coetzee dixit). It is the sickness of the verboid, of false action, of the simulacrum, of the mirage… And the sick body atomizes prayer; reduces it to a scream; injects it with the obscenity and satiety of the hyena. Man and woman cease to be fountains of verbs, transformed into puddles of adjectives. In this situation, along with them, the substantive dies. All prayers become adjectives; the great verb of tyranny ands its barbarism. There are no actions, only labels. Mirage and simulacrum. Here, in the sick body’s marrow, is where poetry, the poem and the verse impose reality’s silent authority: the deep NO that demands its natural place: the body. And the fist of Power has always known this. It is the permanent obsession of the index finger, the only hand that attacks and offends: the only home of tyrants, today and tomorrow. That is why the public mechanisms for chocking the body’s intimacy are offered to the poet as objects of well-being. Mechanisms for inundating with bread the discomfort of he who loves to care for and nourish the joy of language. But the true poet intuits the mold that will appear tomorrow morning in the bread of Power. He knows that no one will eat or share it. A Roman gift with enough suspicion to unmask false poets. If the poet’s dignity is acknowledged and feared from the beginning, that doesn’t prevent the activation of the simulacra that capture and demolish his life. For Power, all dignity is for sale. It has frequently been able to buy it. When it hasn’t, common ditches, firing squads, jails, expulsions and marginalization have been the news from silence.

For a while now I have been asking myself how many true poets exist in my country. There are too many offerings of bread. There is mold and fermented yeast is some verses. Poets bought off by power. Poetry is to dignity as silence is to the soul. A sad rage breaks our most intimate being when we witness how our previous masters of amazement either exercise silence in front of Power’s low mechanisms or enjoy the bread and wine it gives them like a personal check for the purchase of their dignities. How do we save our happiness when we see how Gustavo Pereira, Luis Alberto Crespo, Ana Enriqueta Terán, Ramón Palomares, Juan Calzadilla… argue without words, with their silence or their smile, in favor of barbarism. Power has known how to buy the hunger and desire for recognition of major and minor poets. The once dignified and beloved Monte Ávila Editores publishing house is today one of the places that guarantee the annihilation, by means of purchase, of the spiritual and civic solidity of various cultivators of language. For each book published, a dignity liquidated, silenced… Moldy bread, the wine of deterioration.

Power defines every poet as an enemy. The history of the 20th century shows that the slaves of ideologies assume hatred’s vigil: to eliminate, muffle, silence or purchase the life of the peasants of the astonished spirit. And poets know this. And poets understand that such circumstances are the necessary proof so that their actions against power might be the natural fountains of kindness within the verse. They have no other option, there are not two, three or four places to inhabit; only one. The Grace of being Worthy. Because purchasing the material secrets of the soul is the great hope of the agents of violence, vengeance and resentment. There is no doubt or room for it. There are no cracks or holes for the shadow disguised as light to penetrate. Only firmness, coherence and deep celebration for building the great distance of dignity and honor.

We must celebrate Eugenio Montejo and Rafael Cadenas for their public and private moral constructions. But we also have to look at Gustavo Pereira, Luis Alberto Crespo, Ana Enriqueta Terán, Ramón Palomares and Juan Calzadilla with memory’s sad rage. Yesterday they were our masters of lightning, today our fountains of sad rage. A sad, tautological, anaphoric rage. Because we expect everything from these spiritual masters except for the miseries of staying silent and the happiness of the obedient. Their indifference wounds us, said the other giant, Juan Sánchez Peláez. Their comfort in the face of disaster, amidst the collapse of memory and civilized hope, amidst crime and offense sends us out to walk the streets with the intimate hope that while moving with our eyes to the ground and the concrete, a leaf will remind us how trees are born or how they collapse.

{ Alexis Romero, Tal Cual, 13 November 2007 }

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