Oficio de poeta / Silvio Orta Cabrera

Poet’s Task

Three months after the death of Eugenio Montejo, the one to whom wandering humans appeared as innocent as ever, pondering his murmur to his fatigue, although he never managed to capture them completely in his notebook, as would happen with the thrush’s final squawk through which the tree speaks, I can glean his greatest obsession more clearly: to find the word that would help reveal each secret. The poet’s full task. According to Gustavo Guerrero, Montejo affirmed that nothing like emotion “helps so much to clarify what is truly necessary.” This seems true to me. Emotion led me to begin this note with “September,” a poem from Terredad (1978), whose own beginning observes that “we have lost nothing / placing our trust in its leaves.” Speaking in confidence, the poetic voice says this to the corporeal month that, shovel on its shoulder, drags away the dry leaves. Moreover, because September uncovers the forest for us, it finally invites him (invites us): “Open your hands, fill them with these slow leaves, / don’t let a single one be lost to you.” In similar structures, Guillermo Sucre (La máscara, la transparencia, 1975) notes the determining “constructive passion” in Montejo. His poems return to the starting point and constitute themselves in an open writing process.

Terredad [earthness] will always astonish me, since it is there, in “The earthness of a bird,” that we are shown how that force resides in its song. I will never understand it, I think, but in that verse I found myself inhabited by the Montejian oeuvre. That is, by that secret something, flower or pebble that poetry bequeaths us as a simple gift, something “always so intense that the heart beats too fast. / And we wake.” I scrutinized it this trimester, as I was gathering support for the library being built by the Fundación Chacao to be designated the “Eugenio Montejo” Library, participating in formal and spontaneous readings, distributing hand outs with his verse… and I kept listening to “El azul de la tierra” [The Earth’s Blue], a recording by the Fondo de Cultura where the poet reads forty of his miracles. Listening to Montejo is another listening, since his sensibility throughout the tongue’s resonance is transmuted into an untransferable saying.

It’s one of those recordings that insert a musical piece (in this case a Beethoven sonata) as an interrupted background at the beginning of each poem. Many people like this. I liked it, but in this opportunity less and less the more I listened to it. I ended up considering it a double crime that decapitated Montejo and Beethoven. Although it’s pretty, it’s neither music nor poetry. It seemed to me like certain informational “presentations” in which bad taste stands out because of its abundance. In particular, the necessary silence seemed to be obscured. I decided to test this and asked my son to erase the music. And how I enjoyed it! Montejo explained it to me: “The blackbird sings alone, which is enough sustenance,” says one of his poems. And another reinforces this: “Poetry crosses the earth alone (…) / and asks for nothing – / not even words.”

{ Silvio Orta Cabrera, Tal Cual, 15 September 2008 }

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