El Corno Emplumado revisitado / Heriberto Yépez

El Corno Emplumado Revisited

El Corno Emplumado was the most innovative Mexican poetry magazine.

It was created by Sergio Mondragón, Margaret Randall and Harvey Wolin (who retired) in 1962.

A while ago Letras Libres did a “tree” of Mexican literary magazines. El Corno Emplumado didn’t appear on it. Half a century from now, El Corno will be thought of as a revolutionary magazine throughout the West. Its mistake: to be ahead of its time, to be a contemporary of all space. It was the first magazine, and still the only one!, to publish innovative poetry in Spanish and in English as it appeared. Here in Mexico it wasn’t understood. One needed to be educated in order to appreciate it.

No one has noticed that El Corno Emplumado wasn’t just an exceptional magazine, it was an anti-group, a post-Mexican avant-garde. If Paz’s club was Aztec pyramid and platonic banquet and Infrarrealismo was band & disorder [banda & desbandada], El Corno was diapason and diaspora. Figures ranging from Roger Bartra to Raquel Jodorowsky converged around it. A cultured, pioneer, bi-national and forgotten counterculture.

It was superior to and more cosmopolitan than American magazines considered classics.

El Corno, extra bonus, published books by American authors who are now legendary (like Robert Kelly).

Info glitches [baches] exist. One glitch that always occurs here is gringo poetry [poesía gabacha].

To this day, Mexican literary magazines publish traditionalist American poetry. When they publish new poets it’s tourism or fashion runway, and when they publish innovative poetry it’s because it has already become canonical. Our anglophilia is naive. The same goes for Mexicanists in the United States. What is astonishing about El Corno is that it built a transnational poetry platform throughout the continent. Certain North American poets – like Clayton Eshleman – noticed it and it almost dissolved national limits in poetic activities within small critical communities.

It wasn’t able to do it: Mexican poets were more traditional than their American counterparts. An asymmetry that persists.

And over there they lost interest and didn’t know Spanish. They were counterpoets and gringocentric.

The magazine published 31 issues, sometimes uneven. Its failure: eclecticism. Its good sense: within eclecticism they hunted for poetry that opened up structures and strictures. They liked rarities, isms and emissaries; they had a letters section that today is an archive of curiosity and criticism.

El Corno closed in 1969, after what a crazy tlatoani ordered in Tlatelolco.

40 years after its disappearance we have to acknowledge the following: Randall and Mondragón were visionary editors. The project of a continental avant-garde literature has yet to be achieved.

El Corno Emplumado, intercultural agitation, has been the closest thing to a rupture of the national limits of poetry in this hemisphere.

El Corno Emplumado and Concretism. Except El Corno was not a pilot clan but rather a pioneer platform. It took more risks: volatile vanguard.

Translator’s Note: The original Spanish version of this essay can be read online.

{ Heriberto Yépez, Suplemento Laberinto, Milenio (México D.F.), 22 August 2009 }

1 comment:

Thania said...

Ahora entiendo la recomendación de Heriberto Yépez.