«La mirada» de Guillermo Sucre / Néstor Mendoza

Guillermo Sucre’s La mirada

                    [Image: María Núñez, from a portrait of G. Sucre by Lisbeth Salas]

There’s an alarming level of omission when it comes to the poetry of Guillermo Sucre. His poetic oeuvre, like that of many Venezuelan poets of his generation, isn’t found in any bookstores. Only in select personal libraries could we, maybe, read him. The level of obscurity is such that, many people might believe in a probable fallacy, especially if we thing of international readers: Sucre’s poetry doesn’t exist, and thus, neither does the poet. That’s how, without intending to, he’s moved since the early 1960s when he published his first book of poems: Mientras suceden los días (1961). His facet as a literary critic, his most well-known and celebrated, has been reinforced by the recent republication of La máscara, la transparencia (Caracas: El Estilete, 2016). Finally, the readers who had been wanting to read him and hadn’t been able to find the Monte Ávila Editores (1975) and Fondo de Cultura Económica (1985) editions were satisfied.

With Sucre we find evidence of how the Venezuelan reader tends to approach his favorite authors. We read those authors aslant and in fragments. We feed a monster with odds and ends (with anthologies, if we’re lucky), but our hunger remains intact. That’s why we seek out certain used book stores, as if discovering some millenary manuscript, old folios of incalculable philological value. This happened to me, for example, with La mirada (Caracas: Editorial Tiempo Nuevo, 1970), the second book of poems by our poet born in Tumeremo (land of infamy today and horrendous disappearances).

                    [Photographs by Samoel González Montaño]

The poems that make up this book were written starting in 1962, and they close in 1969. We notice this in the sections Sucre has established: “In the depths of summer, 1962,” “Figuration and act, 1963, 65,” “Mutations, 1966, 68” and “The glance, 1969.”

La mirada revolves around light. It is light. Guillermo Sucre becomes obsessed with illumination and his habitat is the daily gleam or darkness illuminated by electric light. The edges, in that sense, are dimmed in those blazes, those flashes the poet leaves behind with premeditation. The person speaking to us in the poems could be an insect (a hornet) fascinated by a light bulb (a lamp), that seeks and clings to the hot and shiny crystal surface, not caring that its feet might burn to a crisp. What’s the reason for that obsessive search for whiteness?

What’s important (for that insect) is to possess and be in that light, whatever it might cost. If we turn it off, if a tangible or metaphysical hand shifts suddenly and turns it off, the insect moves away, clumsily, toward somewhere else in the room. In its dumb flight, confused and erratic, it stumbles into everything in its path. It doesn’t want (isn’t interested in) the night. Its insect eyes are made for those big emanations, for “midday’s piercing hour” and for “The ruins of dawn.” Poetry for the summer, for the desert to be more precise, that waits vehemently for a light to dictate its own patterns and rhythms. The sun appears even at night.

Metapoetry, theorization within the poem itself, is another visible recourse: “The possibility of being naked in the poem; in the proliferation, in the variety of the poem.” La mirada is a poetics: Sucre observes with a maximized and selective vision: “Where others don’t see / is where the glance I am stops.” In other words, the poet stops in places that aren’t usually seen. I’m not only talking about unexpected places, but also those spaces that, because they’re so close, are easily omitted.

Sucre’s poems alternate ideas and images. Or the ideas are covered over by images (“The vine of knowledge”). The landscape of La mirada isn’t tropical: it’s located in territories that have four seasons, not in this Venezuelan earth that knows only sun and sudden rain. That’s made explicit in several instances of the book: “tall, golden fig tree in that island’s summer;” “We were in autumn;” “We starred in an unknown spring.”

There’s an explicit influence from French poetry in Guillermo Sucre: epigraphs from Mallarmé, Pierre Jean Jouve and Pierre de Place guide the transit of several of these poems; from this last author, Sucre translated “Image of Elohim,” included in the book Tierra prometida (Caracas: Monte Ávila Editores, 1969), whose original title was Terre interdite. What form does that influence take? In the associative freedom and the pleasure in the potentialities of the image: language as a discursive axis and as a theme, as he expresses it in the verse: “The poem whose only theme is the glance.”

La mirada is oblique, intermittent, although lucid and hallucinatory at the same time. Sucre experiments with the recourse of sound and semantic games (“Aire olivo entre olivares,” “ave de la ávida soledad del espacio,” “grávida ingrávida”). This book, it seems, leans toward certain searches for a writerly consciousness. A book to be captured, more than felt.

{ Néstor Mendoza, Letra Muerta, 3 November 2016 }

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