Sobre Armando Rojas Guardia / Rafael Cadenas

Regarding Armando Rojas Guardia
Words in Presentation of the Anthology Mapa del desalojo

[Photo: Armando Rojas Guardia by Manuel Sardá]

What I’ll read tonight are notes. I’ve divided them without following a thread. This will be added by the listeners. My intention was to write a presentation worthy of Armando, who is a classic of our letters, and I now confess that I haven’t been able to, even though I’ve spent many hours in the company of this book. I have read and reread the poems it includes, savoring their rhythm, their expressive precision, their unexpected frankness. I would need more time to explore them and the existential background they speak, in a verbal music, because they are scores.

Armando’s voice comes from deep within. It has a sustenance of Catholic and Christian roots, psychic experiences that are sometimes extreme and a great deal of culture.

That’s where this poetry has emerged from. It’s made with the best words in the language that Christopher Columbus brought us, the one we still speak and which is degraded each day. Above all, the official language of government strips the meanings from the central words of this Republic, which is being dismantled. Nor do we know what language is spoken by those who knocked down the admiral’s statue.

A note on the side. I said “Catholic and Christian” because they’re not the same thing; what’s more, the greatest problem the Church faces is Christianity.

I’m not going to talk about his poetry now: it speaks for itself and I don’t want to interfere in the contact between his poetry and its readers.

I must only warn you that, while it’s true that none of his poems depart from excellence, some of them stand out notably, such as “Falta de mérito,” which summarizes the limitation of language condemned to be a second authority; or number twenty-five of Poemas de Quebrada de la Virgen, where the author fantasizes about probabilities that never took place; “Casi arte poética,” so ironic; “Miro jugar el mundo,” which is about the gratuity of what exists; “Patria,” that summarizes a tragedy, the one we continue to suffer; “La desnudez del loco,” an impassioned defense of difference; but I can’t abound. Now I see that I’ve been unfair to point out various poems, since each one of them communicates so strongly an uncommon experience.

Armando’s words seem to materialize through the strength of what governs them: the corporeal, the physical, the real, names that designate the unknown, since strictly speaking, what do we know? This insurmountable ignorance is covered by the word God, erected as the highest being, what is unthinkable: “An existing God would be frightening,” says Antonio Machado, “God save us from him.” This notion that seems like a joke situates us before an essential matter: the impossibility of that name having an image. This is why Christ is referred to, but no description of him exists either.

Oscura lucidez is a book by Jonatan Alzuru Aponte that I’ve also been reading. It shouldn’t go unnoticed. Besides leading us through Armando’s jungle, it presents the singularity of being multiform: diary, essay, notes, dialogue, criticism are interwoven there, poetically. It makes one want to write that way, without clinging to a form, guiding oneself by means of what one lives. Jonatan’s study, which took him years to complete, seems indispensable to me for anyone who wants to know about his friend’s work as well as his. Both of them are intertwined in Oscura lucidez [Dark Lucidity], an accepted oxymoron.

The prologue by Adalber Salas Hernández and the epilogue by the author contain other visions that complement those offered by the book.

I coincide with many of Armando’s ideas. I’ll choose one: the importance of attention, which by situating us in the present, is the only portion of eternity we are given, dissolving time. In one of his aphorisms José Antonio Ramos Sucre considers it thus: “Time is an invention of watchmakers.” I imagine very few readers have taken this affirmation seriously, which seems so relevant to our era. Schrödinger, a scientist, says in an unbeatable manner: Eternally only exists now. The absolute is here, where else would it be. Life is not somewhere else, it exists where we exist. According to Hinduism sarigara is Nirvana. Buddha would be what’s happening at this moment, beyond and within ourselves.

Finally, listen to the poems the author will read, enjoy his poetry spoken in his own voice, and afterwards do it alone with the book, slowly, reading and rereading.

When I wrote these lines my granddaughter’s cat approached me to ask for her food, it was what I was writing at that moment. This is another one.

NOTE: The poems in Armando Rojas Guardia, Mapa del desalojo: Poemas escogidos were selected by Adalber Salas and published by Fundación Común Presencia, Colombia, 2014. The presentation took place in the bookstore El Buscón in Caracas, on July 17th, 2014.

{ Rafael Cadenas, Papel Literario, El Nacional, 14 September 2014 }

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