“El poeta milita en una resistencia simbólica” / Michelle Roche Rodríguez

“The Poet Is an Activist in A Symbolic Resistance”

With every word Armando Rojas Guardia declaims in his measured voice, his small eyes light up behind his glasses. He reads “Fuera de tiesto,” the poem that gives the title to the collection Bid & Co. Editor has juts published, which contains 30 years of his work, from Del mismo amor ardiendo (1979) until Patria y otros poemas (2008).

He is sitting amidst books, in the small living room of his house, the place where his artistic experience overflows. This is where one understands why this poet says that the image that pursues him is that of “solitary writing at a work table illuminated by the lamp in the middle of the urban night.” He seems like a monk dedicated to theological contemplation, because in his litany, as in the believer’s, the word is embellished and his verse “is partial toward victims,” as he says about the Christian God he adores. This familiarity with displacement marks his poetry.

Without a flowerpot. Harry Almela selected the poems for Fuera de tiesto [Beyond the Flowerpot] based on four themes that mark Rojas Guardia’s trajectory: dailiness as the plot of the urban poem, the aesthetic dimension of the religious experience, the erotic as the sacred space of an encounter with the other and meditation on the poetic act.

The arguments relapse over the poet’s marks: understanding the other by means of the relationship with God and knowing that one is a part of otherness, which is like saying the periphery. That explains why the title of his collection claims to be external to the “tiesto,” a word that, as a noun, indicates flowerpot and as an adjective, to be stubborn. Both ideas are found in his poetry: the sensation of being removed from the world and the tenacity of interpreting it from the peripheral space to which he’s been relegated.

“I’m the prototype of four marginalities,” explains Rojas Guardia. “The first is being a poet in a country that doesn’t favor profound states of consciousness. The second, being a homosexual in a machista culture. The third, being a Christian in a country where the intellectual elite are not only secular but secularist. The fourth, having been a psychiatric patient for years; because the modern West expels them to the margins of society, considering them as unproductive.”

But it is precisely that removed space that allows the poet to articulate his own voice so as to challenge the avatars of a hieratical society, and speak to its victims: homosexuals, believers, those who pray or who know how to value a verse. Because the role of the poet, according to Rojas Guardia, is resistance – “a noble word, that one,” he says – because it has to do with endurance and creativity.

“The poet is an activist in a symbolic resistance that allows him to interpret what happens in a different way. Marginality creates a distance he can take advantage of precisely in order to interpret what’s happening in a different way,” the writer points out.

That distance has allowed him, at the same time, to approach the collective consciousness of Venezuela, a country divided in political sectors that seem irreconcilable. That’s why the poem that closes the anthology is called “Patria,” [Homeland], a scream of common sense rising from the periphery.

{ Michelle Roche Rodríguez, El Nacional, 27 January 2009 }

No comments: