Un país llamado Cadenas / Antonio López Ortega

A Country Called Cadenas

In light of the tribute to Rafael Cadenas that has taken place this week at the PoeMad Poetry Festival in Madrid, it’s worth reflecting on the gravitation of an oeuvre that has represented, why not say it, the most important textual adventure of these times. His poems accompany us like talismans since 1958, with the apparition of Una isla, and it has already been five decades of closeness, revelations, renunciations, lessons or apprenticeships. My generation, in particular, has grown up with this poetry, has drunk from it, has made all of its sonorities its own. He is our poet par excellence, our secret company, our figurehead. Some might say this praise has nothing to do with a poetry that describes humility, that seeks the essential in life, that removes itself from exaggeration, that sees the I sacrosanct institution of the West— as a great trap. But maybe our historical accidents, our political and moral ruin, have seen in this poetry of abandonment, paradoxically, a last resort. Cadenas never thought his poetry could mean so much to so many readers who seek it or find a refuge in it. But once again it has been the circumstances that have labored for this conjunction to exist.

It’s also worth noting that the referent of the country, faced by the avant-garde, has meant very little. It was disdained, it was kept in the vault for lost objects. But this conviction also revealed that no one really values what they already have, like the air we breathe. The country, let us say, is a fait accompli, it’s the closet where we hang our clothes. With that security, with that firm ground, literature advances with complete freedom, concerned with its own evolution, expressing outrage at conservative ideas and planting flowers in the heads of the obtuse. Until, of course, the country ceases, stops, dissolves, which is what is happening now. They are taking away the strip from which we would lift off, they hide certainty from us, they dissolve the culture that explained us and gave us exposure. The freedom with which an oeuvre like Cadenas’s has grown and evolved to critique the sense of possession, the foolish urges, the vanity, the superfluous ways of life today, and has advocated, instead, in favor of transcendence, of the flame that is all being, of a condition that is more celestial and less earthly, while it also ceases or suspends itself without the certainties that have seemed natural, eternal to us. And it has been in these last few years when, surprisingly, without being predetermined, that the work of Cadenas, faced with the lack of a country, grows among adepts and readers to constitute itself as an alternate country, with its own geography, inhabitants, feelings and certainties. This is what happens with great works when the sustenance that postulated them disappears. 

{ Antonio López Ortega, El Nacional, 23 October 2014 }

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