Un tratamiento posible / Santiago Acosta & Willy McKey

A Possible Treatment
(El Salmón Poetry Magazine, Part V)

In this fifth and final installment, and after a symptomatic review of the state of Venezuelan poetry, El Salmón presents a possible strategy for creating an alternative publication that would respond to the necessities this collective understands as urgent. Without Adamic or parricidal presumptions, a promise to read.

Alternative spaces have always been a necessity for literature. The legitimization of the word associated with poetry (both the creative and the reflexive one) can be given by means of organs separate from institutions, which in most cases condition and limit the potentially confrontational power – and thus a renovating force – of literary reflection. However, in a country such as ours the birth and sustenance of these alternate means of legitimization becomes more and more difficult. There are few independent magazines able to maintain themselves over time without disappearing or submitting to the monetary power of institutions. But the alternative isn’t necessarily tied to monetary independence. Its quality as an “other,” its alterity, is to be found in the path it has chosen to navigate.

Reflections on poetry should enliven us. If the publishing houses don’t incorporate themselves beyond praise, let prologues remain for the foolish. If we start from the belief that poetry can’t be critiqued we’ll get stuck in an absence of criteria that can only lead to silence, that silence one finds in the very substance of chatter, of the adulating noise that paralyzes the growth and development of the poetic word. We think poetry, like all arts, can be critiqued.

Our poetry is waiting, serenely, for the anxious and daring reader who will know how to extract from her all that we owe ourselves. A history remains to be organized, there are pending dialogues, urgent confrontations, inevitable complaints and owed applause. When, if not now? In our literary reality, new dialogues are pertinent in which fraternity doesn’t come before honesty: that praise be given to the word and not to friendship. Conference panels that will attend to new poetics along with editorial projects that will revise forgotten oeuvres; workshops open to honest revision; sincere questions about our poetry’s chronological line; renouncing omission in regards to evidence. May pens that articulate favors instead of truths think twice before putting prestige at risk for the sake of a friend.

If we’ve decide to take on the risky adventure of a magazine dedicated to Venezuelan poetry, it’s not with any desire to turn readers toward our own work; it has been because of a thirst, a weariness of private complaints regarding matters we should attend to as being public and on paper. It has been because of a reverential respect for the Venezuelan poetic tradition. We feel the need to revisit our poetic patrimony to ventilate it, expose it, take it off the dusty shelf so it can walk around and its fur be illuminated. Just by visiting a used bookstore or browsing through an ancient manual of Venezuelan literature, a heterodox anthology, an edition of unusual essays, we can find dispersed traces of admirable, strange or hilariously stingy forgotten poets worth reviving. It’s painful to contemplate how Venezuelan poetry is sifted through, almost directionless, as though no one were to blame.

We’d like to read, but read seriously: to open a space where the fraternal pat on the back isn’t a prerequisite; where polemics are possible without meltdowns; where names forgotten by publishing houses and new voices might be able to, at least, show themselves; pages where careful pens can exercise today’s intoxicated duty of criticism with the necessary license so that honesty (of a fundamental reading, not one turned into favor or reproach) be the only common place. We shouldn’t confuse the silence of readers with approval.

We must liven the voice. The well-worn reading doesn’t deserve being reduced to the most boring portion of a book’s baptism. It’s fair to bring back its political character, its contrasting dynamic. No longer the act among the same group of friends who’ll buy the book at the end, but the poem itself waiting and predicting. Poetry read aloud doesn’t require an editorial stamp or approval: it is enough of itself when it succeeds in drawing people towards itself. El Salmón wants to be a space for the legitimization of the words that precede us, the never reedited, the unpublished and the words that reflect around all of them. More than just wanting to create a new space, we think it has to be revived, to free it from the emptiness that has accumulated on top of it. In this way, we’d like to be rescuers more than pioneers, re-creators more than inventors. Nor do we hope to remain in the earnestness of a gesture that would define us as a generation. The pages of that magazine we have thought prefer to gestate rather than generate: to be a reading collective; to open spaces for awakening the possible dynamics of the word; to attend to poetry from a multiplicity; to notice it, annotate it and opine on it.

But we only promise one task: we will read. Read ourselves, read ourselves, read ourselves and learn that creating a tension of ideas has nothing to do with treason, but with intelligence. The alternative, and never a polemic for the sake of polemic. Not this silence.

{ Santiago Acosta & Willy McKey, Papel Literario, El Nacional, 1 December 2007 }

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