Un poeta venezolano que sólo conocen algunos poetas / Vicente Gerbasi

A Venezuelan Poet Who is Only Known by a Few Poets

                  [Juan Sánchez Peláez (1922-2003) and Vicente Gerbasi (1913-1992)]

Juan Sánchez Peláez, a young Venezuelan with one of the greatest gifts for poetic exercise, has been working for more or less ten years amidst a silence that is surprising in our circles, where everyone who writes a sonnet or a couplet or a newspaper essay wants to launch their literary career with the publication of a book.

Juan Sánchez Peláez, whom I think is one of the best poets in Venezuela at the moment, is barely known by a limited group of poets, writers and artists in Caracas, the city where he grew up and has spent some of the years of his taciturn existence. He is also known in Santiago de Chile, where he studied and attended the gatherings of the group “Mandrágora”, a circle of young Chilean poets and prose writers, among whom Eduardo Anguita, Braulio Arenas and others stand out.

In Chile, a land of turbulent struggles and good poets, Juan Sánchez Peláez became aware of the troubles of our time, perfectly understood modern poetry, knew how to conceive beauty according to the newest aesthetic currents, and unraveled a concrete and lucid language from his own soul, through which a marvelous subjective atmosphere anoints a real world of wealth.

In his poetry everything seems to be an invention of language, but the truth is that his work adheres to a profound reality of the senses, to a serious resonance of the soul, to a charmed vision of the world.

Sánchez Peláez works on his poetry every day, indefatigably. This young artist is possessed by a true creative passion. For years now he has been accumulating pages, notebooks, books. However, he hasn’t yet been able to publish anything, not even a chapbook. This is the great danger for our young poets. Besides the fact that they find themselves crushed by a cruel reality, often despised by a society only focused on the thirst for gold and a frenzied career of vanity and luxury, they don’t have the possibility of publishing their poems in books, unless it is by means of extraordinary sacrifices.

I continue to believe that we should establish an association of writers and artists that would focus on publishing on a monthly basis the best work being produced in the country. Decent, presentable editions could be made, with quality paper and tasteful typography, to be distributed to subscribers. In this way we could stimulate many of our young poets, writers and artists in a practical manner. That association could also publish music, give concerts and present exhibitions of our most outstanding artists.

Someone might ask: “Well, isn’t that what the Association of Venezuelan Writers is for?” Whoever asks this is correct, but the truth is that organization isn’t doing very well.

We should organize a group of writers and artists, a group motivated by creative enthusiasm, from which a homogenous movement might arise, capable of continuing and enriching our intellectual tradition.

The truth is, at this moment our literary and artistic landscape is quite mediocre. Young people in particular resent this mediocre landscape. Especially certain young people who are truly creators, like Juan Sánchez Peláez, whose temperament is crushed by encounters with falseness, selfishness and the masks of cretins.

In Venezuela we’re accustomed to hearing excessive adjectives when people talk about writers and artists.

Regarding Juan Sánchez Peláez, let us say that he is a good poet, a true good poet.

{ Vicente Gerbasi, Papel Literario, El Nacional, 25 June 1950 }

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