Luis García Morales (para Elisa Lerner) / Antonio López Ortega

Luis García Morales (for Elisa Lerner)

In these past fifteen years (2000-2015) we’ve lost important Venezuelan writers. I’m not referring to a quotidian importance, but rather a transcendent one. These are authors who marked the 20th century, who sculpted it until giving it the shape of a prodigious century, with variable, arrogant, resonant, intimate, revelatory voices. Sadly, we attend the gradual disappearance of two generations: those born in the 20s and those the 30s. Novelists like Gustavo Díaz Solís, Salvador Garmendia, Adriano González León; or poets like Juan Sánchez Peláez, Eugenio Montejo, Francisco Pérez Perdomo have departed without receiving a word of thanks from the country. Because that’s another extenuating circumstance that makes the situation even more devastating: the feeling that this culture without a memory doesn’t think, doesn’t value what has made it possible. If these authors spoke of our human landscape, they described it to its core; if these authors elevated our nature into metaphysical realms; if these authors spent their days working until they found the “common traits,” why does the humanity that survives them walk unmoved, numb, ignorant? The first lack is institutional and corresponds to the State that doesn’t recognize its great figures, but then we also have a lethargic, dismantled apparatus (institutions, universities, press, literary groups) that doesn’t appreciate the good, the transcendent, maybe because it’s immersed in a storm that consumes the days with greater urgencies: murders, tortures or hunger.

Another magnificent voice we’ve lost in these days increasing the funeral choir is that of Luis García Morales (1929-2012). A poet from the state of Guyana, a member of the literary group Sardio, president of the Consejo Nacional de Cultura in the 1980s, his poetic works, although brief and discreet, were clearly innovative and responded to an honest reading of his time. With this I want to say that his readings were the best, he was up to date with the great contemporary masters, especially the French and English, and his expressive intensity had few antecedents among us. His verbal luxury aligned him with Juan Sánchez Peláez, and his manner of revealing the gaps within matter displayed an uncommon penetration. Of course images from childhood (the grandiosity of the Orinoco river, for example) are transformed to levels in which the origins are erased, becoming pure abstraction, but that same procedure is the one an artist like Jesús Soto would use to admit that the poles of his “penetrable” kinetic sculptures were no more than the solar gleam the river itself would emit, especially during sunset hours.

In books like El río siempre or Lo real y la memoria, García Morales is able to combine landscape and memory to such a degree that the reader isn’t able to distinguish between one and the other. We could say a memory might be a tree, or that a bird is actually a thought. To go deep into the landscape is to go deep into memory, or seeing is the same as remembering, or admiring is the same as meditating. When the poet tells us these verses: “I write the ghost and it’s my oblivion / I write my name / And the water passes overhead / Washing its darkness,” it remains clear that existence and non-existence are false antinomies, or that the name of something and its erasure are the same. Just as the ancient river wanders our sleep and divides us in two, likewise the memory of the poet, when we think it’s gone and it continues within us.

{ Antonio López Ortega, El Nacional, 16 July 2015 }

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