4.20.2017

Oswaldo Barreto: Al margen del desencanto / Carlos Egaña

Oswaldo Barreto: On the Margins of Disenchantment

                    [Photo: Oswaldo Barreto, by Vasco Szinetar]

“Cancer is a wonderful thing.” That’s how Swallowing Stones begins, an ironic portrait of a Venezuelan ex-guerrilla fighter in Latin America, Europe and the Middle East, written by Lisa St. Aubin de Terán.

The novel isn’t very well known. It was never translated into Spanish. And it has the particularity of having a narrator who isn’t a fictional character. The character, who physically looked like a shorter Einstein who never stopped gulping down water, who travelled from Trujillo to Germany to study with Martin Heidegger, who was an ideologist for so many guerrilla movements around the world, who lived to be an old man on some corner in Caracas.

His name is Oswaldo Barreto. And today, a few days after his death, I still don’t understand why his adventures are so unknown. “I brought Todorov to Venezuela once,” he mentioned when we met, after I told him I study Literature. I hadn’t even been able to ask him, astonished, about his friendship with Roque Dalton and Régis Debray or for having allegedly hijacked an airplane, or any number of stories that could have been narrated by Adriano González León in his 1968 novel País Portátil.

Maybe he wasn’t interested in being anything other than a professor —at the Central University of Venezuela, the University of the Andes and at the University of Havana—. It’s true that as a member of the French Communist Party and the Armed Forces of National Liberation, he participated alongside Teodoro Petkoff in Venezuela’s guerrilla movement, he was a mediator for Cuba and Algeria while the African nation was seeking its independence and he resisted the coup against Allende in Chile.

But in the country that had recently been established by Fidel, he was known as el profe [the professor], a role he assumed proudly. “I’m less extraordinary than the myth says I am,” the alter ego of Swallowing Stones insists, while qualifying his wanderings all over the world as “a comedy of errors,” and finding peace in being an academic. Not everyone, no matter their talent and fame, wants to be the face of change; some people prefer to think it.

Maybe his personality reduced him to the margins of our history. In one of the few books that mentions him, the Diaries of Ángel Rama, he’s characterized as “the prototype of the revolutionary garrulousness of bars.” This was in reaction to a devastating critique Oswaldo had written about an homage to Léopold Sédar Senghor by the Uruguayan critic.

I had myself tried proposing to him a translation of St. Aubin de Terán’s novel. And he said no, because he insisted that people tend to confuse fiction with reality in Venezuela, and he didn’t want to see himself caught up in dilemmas about his past. Later on I wanted to interview him for a compilation of interviews with ex guerrilla fighters that I once hoped to write; but he was impassive with each question —he judged them as imprecise, based on citations that were taken out of context and poorly-understood concepts—. In the end, all the projects I came up with to give Barreto more visibility failed, which didn’t seem to bother him much.

Notwithstanding, he couldn’t have been any other way. The incisiveness of his personality went hand in hand with his critical vocation. There was a great deal of disenchantment around him during his life, and he never faltered when it came time to point that out.

Rama may have considered him another generic product of the República del Este, but Oswaldo accused Juan Calzadilla, Edmundo Aray and Daniel González of having betrayed the ideals of the 1960s literary group El Techo de la Ballena when they sided with Chavismo.

The times I accompanied him to the Gran Café in Sabana Grande, he never stopped lamenting the miserable conditions of the women who sell mango jelly on the street, and he couldn’t stop complaining about the bad interpretations of a friend of his: Che.

His house, by the way, was chaos. Although the sum of jouneys that defined him and all the disillusions he carried explain the disorder of his books and kitchen. “Why this brusque home, half outside, half inside?” Paul Celan, a poet of his preference, asked himself once. And the question goes with his cave in the San Bernardino neighborhood of Caracas. How could he not live amidst ruins with children in Germany, France, Iran and several failed revolutions behind him?

“What is a revolutionary intellectual? The person who wants to change things thanks to words,” said Debray in an interview Oswaldo conducted with him in 1997. I think reflections such as this one influenced him to drop his weapons and eventually become a columnist for the newspaper Tal Cual.

This, along with his work as a teacher and researcher for the Rómulo Gallegos Center for Latin American Studies. More than ever, in a decade when radical change seems like a commonplace thing, we should research his archive and separate fact from myth. So much disillusion and apprenticeship shouldn’t remain a mere reference.




{ Carlos Egaña, Prodavinci, 15 April 2017 }

4.15.2017

He dejado descansar tristemente mi cabeza / Emilio Adolfo Westphalen

I have sadly let my head rest

I have sadly let my head rest
Under this shade that falls from the noise of your steps
A return to the other margin
Grandiose as the night to deny you
I have left my dawns and the trees rooted in my throat
I have even left the star that ran in my bones
I have abandoned my body
Like the shipwreck abandons the boats
Or like memory when the tide drops
Some strange eyes over the beaches
I have abandoned my body
Like a glove so the hand will be free
In case I have to hold on to the joyful pulp of a star
You don’t hear me lighter than the leaves
And not even the air can chain me
Nor the waters withstand my fate
You don’t hear me coming stronger than the night
And the doors that don’t resist against my breath
And the cities that grow silent so you won’t perceive them
And the forest that opens like a morning
That wants to hold the world in its arms
Beautiful bird fated to fall in paradise
The curtains have already fallen over your escape
My arms have already shut the walls
And the branches leaning over to block your way
Fragile doe fears the earth
The fences are already latched
Your forehead will now fall under the weight of my anxiety
Your eyes will now close over mine
And your sweetness will sprout you like new horns
And your kindness spread out like the shade that surrounds me
My head has stopped rolling
My heart I’ve let it drop
I have nothing else to make me know I’ll reach you
Since I have no hands to grab
From what’s been set aside to perish
Nor feet to weigh over such oblivion
Of dead bones and dead flowers
I might not reach the other margin
If we’ve already read the last sheet of paper
And the music has begun to braid the light you will fall into
And the rivers block your road
And the flowers call you with my voice
Big rose it’s time to stop
The summer sounds like an unfreezing in the hearts
And the dawns tremble like trees when they wake up
The exits are guarded
Big rose, won’t you fall?




Abolición de la muerte (1935)




{ Emilio Adolfo Westphalen, Simulacro de sortilegios: Poesía completa, Madrid: Visor Libros, 2006 }

3.25.2017

COSAS QUE AMO HACER EN CARACAS: / Lena Yau

THINGS I LOVE TO DO IN CARACAS


1. Flying on a moto taxi
2. Going into the radio station and hugging my friends
3. Having a coffee in a forgotten cafeteria
4. Enjoying a fragmented and jumpy conversation between four friends.
5. Recognizing spaces I travelled through so many years ago. Picking up my pieces there.
6. Playing hide & seek with the mountain.
7. Wandering in complete solitude and silence.
8. Returning to old malls, to walk through them, window shopping their stores.
9. Visiting bookstores I hadn’t been to before. Listening quietly while someone asks for my Hormigas en la lengua. Feeling my face turn red.
9. Slowly eating the sweet ají, catara picante and Araya salt flavors combined into one chocolate: the bon bons made by @cacaodeorigen
10. Granting myself the pleasure of sitting alone at a bar and enjoying several freezing tercio beers while I prepare a talk.
11. Being a city, being Caracas.


*


COSAS QUE AMO HACER EN CARACAS:

1. Volar en moto taxi
2. Entrar en la estación de radio y abrazar a mis amigas
3. Tomar café en una cafetería destartalada
4. Disfrutar de una conversa fragmentada y saltarina entre cuatro amigas.
5. Reconocer espacios recorridos años ha. Recoger mis pedazos en ellos.
6. Jugar al escondite con la montaña.
7. Deambular en completa soledad y silencio.
8. Volver a los viejos centros comerciales, caminarlos, curiosear sus tiendas.
9. Visitar librerías que no conozco. Escuchar calladita que alguien pregunta por mis Hormigas. Sentir que la cara se me pone roja.
9. Comerme despacito los sabores del ají dulce, del picante de catara y de la sal de Araya encofrados en chocolate: los bombones de @cacaodeorigen
10. Darme el gusto de sentarme a solas en un bar y disfrutar de varios tercios helados de cerveza mientras preparo una charla.
11. Ser ciudad, ser Caracas.




{ Lena Yau, Facebook, 21 March 2017 }

3.11.2017

29 poetas jóvenes amanecen sobre la palabra / Diana Moncada

29 Young Venezuelan Poets Awaken Over the Word


Twenty-nine poets who awaken over the word. Twenty-nine young voices who in their unease, their predictions and anomalies offer the poem amidst a world falling to pieces. That’s the wager of the anthology Amanecimos sobre la palabra, curated and selected by the poet and editor Oriette D’Angelo and published recently by the organization Team Poetero.

The selections in this anthology draw, in the words of D’Angelo, a cartography that allows us to glimpse the new means of disseminating poetry on the Internet. The twenty-nine Venezuelan poets included have as a common denominator that their texts have come to life for the first time in cyberspace and their incipient literary projects are a click away through various digital magazines that make up today’s digital ecosystem.

The anthology of young Venezuelan poets offers a journey through the most diverse registers and topics, but always under the chaotic sign of contemporaneity, the complexity of a world where utopias have failed, and the cataclysm of a dismembered country.

The name of the anthology —explains the editor in the prologue— alludes to a verse by the poet Pablo Rojas Guardia, “used as an aesthetic banner by part of the Generation of 28.” For the poet and editor the anthology is also an homage to the poet and a recognition of digital media as promoters of new literature.

The poets selected, born between 1985 and 1999, include Susan Urich, Oswaldo Flores, Liwin Acosta, Pamela Rahn, Víctor Noé, Andrea Paola Hernández and Miguel Ortiz Rodríguez, among others.

D’Angelo explains that thanks to her work as editor of the digital platform Digo.palabra.txt and to her interest in digital magazines she already knew many of the names of those that ended up forming part of the book.

“Despite knowing them, having read nearly all of them previously and recognizing their talent, I also wanted to focus on two things: the singularity of their poetic voices and that as many of Venezuela’s cities as possible be represented,” explained the editor, for whom it was important to show that the literary activities in places such as Maracaibo, Coro, Mérida and San Cristóbal are as “incredible” as those in the capital city.

The topics addressed by the young poets range from the most canonical in the Venezuelan poetic tradition, such as memory, the house, the city, the body; to those permeated by signs of the megabyte era and by less conventional structures that defy the act of reading.

For D’Angelo, “the desire to keep writing despite the lack of opportunities,” is what unites these singular voices. “All of them have interesting projects, some have magazines, participate in literary groups, organize readings and events. This generation, which includes me, ”has found it hard to start materializing their work. Very few of those included have their first book published, and it’s not because they haven’t written them, but because they depend on contests and prizes to do so,” D’Angelo assures.

The literary activities of these young poets are taking place and expanding behind computer and mobile screens. This ferment is one of the qualities D’Angelo wanted to highlight in the generation represented by the book.

She finds the interaction sparked by the Internet “interesting” in relation to poetic dissemination and creation. However she warns: “It’s quite easy to get carried away by the immediacy of the Internet. A poem getting 70 likes on Facebook doesn’t make it the poem of the century, but neither does getting 2 likes mean it’s bad. I’m not talking about those types of interactions, which are more superficial, I’m talking more about the process of dissemination, recognition and dialogue that can happen in this space between readers and writers.”

While it is an anthology, it only aims to be an “approximation” —the editor affirms—, to what’s currently happening in regards to poetry.

The book will be presented tomorrow in Caracas at Kalathos bookstore, at 12:30pm.




{ Diana Moncada, El Universal, 11 March 2017 }

3.05.2017

Simetrías y asimetrías: José Antonio Ramos Sucre y Andrés Eloy Blanco / Alejandro Oliveros

Symmetries and Asymmetries: José Antonio Ramos Sucre and Andrés Eloy Blanco

                    [José Antonio Ramos Sucre (L) and Andrés Eloy Blanco (R)]

The two most prominent figures of modern Venezuelan poetry were born in the city of Cumaná, on Venezuela’s eastern coast. The older poet, Ramos Sucre, was born in 1890, and Blanco in 1906. Members of distinguished families from the Oriente region, their childhood homes are only a few blocks apart from each other. Fate, however, made sure they never met, despite the symmetries that link the lives of these bards: an inclination for the humanities, law studies at the University of Caracas, both of them poets. Additionally, they were linked in their diplomatic careers; one of them, Ramos Sucre, was a functionary in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs; and Blanco, was a minister, a couple of decades later, of that same Ministry. And the gods also chose a death in exile for them. The first one in Geneva; in what is undeniably a suicide, afflicted as he was by the “vampire of melancholia.” And the second, in an improbable driving accident during his exile in Mexico. The symmetries end here, because nothing could be more divergent than the poetics that distinguished their work.

Ramos Sucre is rightfully considered Venezuela’s first modern poet; prose poems, impersonal, hermetic, learned, demanding, with an exquisite syntax and the insistence on the image as the basic instrument of expression. He wrote little and never for many, his style was that of Cellini and his exquisite goldsmith work. Andrés Eloy Blanco, for his part, didn’t quite propose to be a poet of modernity. It seemed better to him to take on a crepuscular post-Romantic aesthetic, expressed in conventional diction and traditional meters. Incapable of dissociating the poet from the politician, he aimed to be and undoubtedly he was a popular poet, within reach of large crowds and immediate recognition. He never seemed to identify with the attempts being put forth, not without exhaustion, by the best of his contemporaries to adapt the new expressive forms that had been disseminated for several decades in Europe or the United States.

They were born in Cumaná, two poets of antipodal expressions, despite the symmetries that might have brought them closer. Blanco is probably the poet most read by Venezuelans during the 20th century, although I’m not sure he’ll keep that position in the 21st century. While Ramos Sucre continues to be a strange figure whose readership is limited to universities and poets who recognize him as the founder of modern Venezuelan poetry.




Alejandro Oliveros, poet and essayist, was born in Valencia on March 1st, 1948. He founded and directed the magazine Poesía, published by the Universidad de Carabobo. He has published ten poetry collections including El sonido de la casa (1983) and Poemas del cuerpo y otros (2005). His books of essays include La mirada del desengaño (1992) and Poetas de la Tierra Baldía (2000).




{ Alejandro Oliveros, Prodavinci, 4 March 2017 }

2.26.2017

Entre el día y los sueños / Francisco Pérez Perdomo

Between the Day and its Dreams

Between the day and its dreams,
the man, who could barely stand,
was walking alone.
He was walking in his mute desert.
Rising from the earth,
again and again,
the silence of the dead.
He was walking around and around
his own self.
A nameless exhaustion
haunted him. It insisted
circling over
his very own body.
He was carrying the prodigious weight
of an immense torture.
A dark secret made him twitch
and overshadowed his face.
It was moaning in the voice of the wind
crossing at that moment,
desolate, through the plateaus.
The man, just like
Jeremiah, was lamenting.
He looked into those
mirrors as if he were
seeing beyond the world.
He would, suddenly, reach the point
of an unstoppable gust of wind.
Now the man had just
passed through
without ever having arrived.




{ Francisco Pérez Perdomo, Eclipse, Edición de autor: Caracas, 2008 }

2.18.2017

Hirsutas tempestades / Francisco Pérez Perdomo

Hirsute Tempests

He was looking for the first
and last time at his land.
The land that came from
within. He wanted to remain
there for all of eternity.
To be just another dead man,
among the rest of the deceased,
in the entire universe. In
repeated machine-like gestures,
he would search within himself
for something imaginary
without ever
finding it, and once again it was stirring
inside, like souls
in limbo, the portents,
and, funereal, they tormented him.
Alone, as if they were
a creaking, he might see some
fiery serpents
crossing through space.
He had lost his center
of gravity and couldn’t
find it anywhere. With his phantasmal
face, he was a shadow
amidst the shadows.
He was, likewise, whipped
to his very bones
by vertiginous lightning bolts
and hirsute tempests.




{ Francisco Pérez Perdomo, Eclipse, Edición de autor: Caracas, 2008 }

2.07.2017

No preocuparse / Guillermo Sucre

Don’t be preoccupied

Don’t be preoccupied: occupy yourself: dis-occupy yourself


*


No preocuparse: ocuparse: desocuparse




La vastedad (1988)




{ Guillermo Sucre, Conversación con la intemperie. Seis poetas venezolanos, selección y prólogo de Gustavo Guerrero, Barcelona, España: Galaxia Gutenberg/Círculo de Lectores, 2008 }

2.05.2017

Regresar no es guarecerse en la casa / Guillermo Sucre

Returning doesn’t mean sheltering yourself at home

Returning doesn’t mean sheltering yourself at home
but instead getting lost in the long memory of home


*


Regresar no es guarecerse en la casa
sino extraviarse en la larga memoria de la casa




La vastedad (1988)




{ Guillermo Sucre, Conversación con la intemperie. Seis poetas venezolanos, selección y prólogo de Gustavo Guerrero, Barcelona, España: Galaxia Gutenberg/Círculo de Lectores, 2008 }

2.04.2017

Las mismas obsesiones / Guillermo Sucre

The same obsessions

The same obsessions: at least we exist
to exist, isn’t it one more obsession one more
contradiction?

*

Las mismas obsesiones: al menos existimos
existir ¿no es una obsesión una contradicción
más?




La vastedad (1988)




{ Guillermo Sucre, Conversación con la intemperie. Seis poetas venezolanos, selección y prólogo de Gustavo Guerrero, Barcelona, España: Galaxia Gutenberg/Círculo de Lectores, 2008 }

1.28.2017

Somos ese cuerpo / Guillermo Sucre

We are that body

We are that body deserving the splendor
of its own death


*


Somos ese cuerpo que merece el esplendor
de su propia muerte




La vastedad (1988)




{ Guillermo Sucre, Conversación con la intemperie. Seis poetas venezolanos, selección y prólogo de Gustavo Guerrero, Barcelona, España: Galaxia Gutenberg/Círculo de Lectores, 2008 }

1.27.2017

Somos esa frase / Guillermo Sucre

We are that phrase

We are that phrase stunning us at night
amid insomnia
and then we’ll never be able to write or forget


*


Somos esa frase que nos deslumbra en las noches
en medio del insomnio
y luego nunca podremos escribir ni olvidar




La vastedad (1988)




{ Guillermo Sucre, Conversación con la intemperie. Seis poetas venezolanos, selección y prólogo de Gustavo Guerrero, Barcelona, España: Galaxia Gutenberg/Círculo de Lectores, 2008 }

1.25.2017

Cada palabra desplaza a otra / Guillermo Sucre

Each word displaces another one

Each word displaces another one we aren’t able to speak


*


Cada palabra desplaza a otra que nunca logramos decir




La vastedad (1988)




{ Guillermo Sucre, Conversación con la intemperie. Seis poetas venezolanos, selección y prólogo de Gustavo Guerrero, Barcelona, España: Galaxia Gutenberg/Círculo de Lectores, 2008 }

1.24.2017

No hay dos lenguajes / Guillermo Sucre

There aren’t two languages

There aren’t two languages: the same word that speaks
is the one that’s quiet
but there are two silences: the same word that’s quiet
isn’t the one that speaks


*


No hay dos lenguajes: la misma palabra que habla
es la que calla
pero hay dos silencios: la misma palabra que calla
no es la que habla




La vastedad (1988)




{ Guillermo Sucre, Conversación con la intemperie. Seis poetas venezolanos, selección y prólogo de Gustavo Guerrero, Barcelona, España: Galaxia Gutenberg/Círculo de Lectores, 2008 }

1.22.2017

El mundo es una dicción / Guillermo Sucre

The world is a diction

The world is a diction that isn’t given to us
to pause guide with anything but the body


*


El mundo es una dicción que no nos es dado
pausar pautar sino con el cuerpo




La vastedad (1988)




{ Guillermo Sucre, Conversación con la intemperie. Seis poetas venezolanos, selección y prólogo de Gustavo Guerrero, Barcelona, España: Galaxia Gutenberg/Círculo de Lectores, 2008 }

1.01.2017

Caracas, 20 de marzo de 1929 / José Antonio Ramos Sucre

Caracas, March 20th, 1929*


Mr. Lorenzo Ramos, agent of Banco de Venezuela, Maracay

     Thank you very much for the kind telegram from you and Blanca. Some concerns have assaulted me this unfortunate year. But my patience is superhuman. I insist on the nobility of patience, origin of our affective virtues. Patience is courage in adversity and urbanity with our fellow humans. No one tries to find out our merits, but instead people want to see if we’re sociable and tolerant. In our home that fertile quality was almost always prohibited and plebeian irascibility rose to be considered an energy.
     I’m spending lots of money. In order to get some sleep, I’ve found myself having to rent the apartment contiguous to mine, much more spacious and better furnished. This way I avoid the danger of it being inhabited by two people at the same time, which would lead to conversations at night and my own annoyance. So I have occupied, then, the contiguous apartment.
     This is my reason for delaying gifts for my gracious nieces. I need to wait for the balance first. I hope to count on the benevolence of such exquisite girls.
     Be very careful with my previous letter, where I point out pitiful habits [...]. The list of illnesses and tragedies can afflict and depress. St. Thomas Aquinas has already pointed to the ravages of sadness and fear on man’s body.
     Well, dear Lorenzo, take care of yourself and be circumspect.
                                                                                                     J.A.R.S.

     Give your condolences to Doña Carmelita Martínez de Sucre for the death of Antonio, your subaltern in Bolívar. I don’t believe in any resentment on your part towards that family. Don’t listen to intrigues.




* “Typewritten letter. Blanca González Pregal was Lorenzo’s wife and their daughters are: Gladys, Isabel Cecilia —Ramos Sucre’s goddaughter— and Luisa Elena. Antonio Sucre Martínez was a second cousin. The previous letter the author alludes to hasn’t been published.” (Alba Rosa Hernández Bossio)




{ José Antonio Ramos Sucre, Obra poética, Edición crítica de Alba Rosa Hernández Bossio, Madrid: Colección Archivos, 2001 }

12.28.2016

Lanza tu poesía / Ludovico Silva

Throw Your Poetry

Throw your poetry like an energetic dagger at
     reality; you’ll see how reality sends it back to you
     with even more strength

Don’t get drunk to know reality; it’s
     already drunk. It’s up to you to stay lucid.

The pure love of words doesn’t last forever;
there comes a moment when things impose themselves.

28 October 1968




{ Ludovico Silva, Cuaderno de la noche, Caracas: Editorial Arte, 1979 }

12.26.2016

El miedo a la conciencia / Ludovico Silva

The Fear of Consciousness

The fear of consciousness
is the fear of my own being.
I’m scared of you, clarity that acts
beacon in the depths of my bones.

I fear you, precious stone
that nourishes and radiates in my head.
Ah, lucidity of lime, snows rays
murderous whiteness.
I want to return to the night of nights,
to that Genesiacal tranquility
where being moved like an unconscious mass
developing in the dark.
Where did this light of my being come from?
Who wanted to stamp it on my forehead
with the sign of suffering?
I have loved you, light,
but I can’t use you anymore in time;
I would need a total light, without a body,
arrived from the blood, but flying towards the cosmos.
Too much consciousness for such a small being!




{ Ludovico Silva, Cuaderno de la noche, Caracas: Editorial Arte, 1979 }

12.25.2016

Fijos en el tormento / Ludovico Silva

Fixed in Torment

I can feel evil, the tenderness of evil
the softness of the abyss
hatred’s compassionate glance
rancor’s attractive profile
the purest impurity.

I hear the sulphur singing in the tunnels
and the creaking of regret.
I see sins suffering for being sins
yet they enjoy the punishment so much.
The angel becomes more alive for me again
when he was falling toward our time.

And after all, aren’t there two spaces?
Isn’t there one that’s alive and another one dead?
There’s one that’s alive and I can feel it nearby,
the infernal space.
It’s evil what is ours;
good is nothing more than good angels.
There is nothing but men, evil men
like me, in love with their evil
alive in their misery and in their miserable love
fixed in torment.

8 November 1968




{ Ludovico Silva, Cuaderno de la noche, Caracas: Editorial Arte, 1979 }

12.22.2016

Mis Beatrices / Ludovico Silva

My Beatrices

An expert and wise friend of mine says
that all women are called Beatrice:
Is this eye of dusk real?

Ancient and deep, my friend also says
that Dante forgot
about the Beatrices of hell.

She’s the one I want,
the one with my inferno on her back.

Priestly, immense,
she holds the white chalice in her hands
she puts it to my lips
and everything dissolves in flames.

21 October 1978



{ Ludovico Silva, Cuaderno de la noche, Caracas: Editorial Arte, 1979 }

12.21.2016

Con los otros / Ludovico Silva

With the Others

The beaches at night
are an orchestra in the dark,
they fall like fragments,
spears that infringe upon
cemeteries of quartz.

In my solitude, sounds
solidarity:
golden letter in the gloom.

18 October 1978




{ Ludovico Silva, Cuaderno de la noche, Caracas: Editorial Arte, 1979 }

12.20.2016

Introito / Ludovico Silva

Prologue

Herein lie the scarce living remains of a long shipwreck.
After ten years of continuous and golden death, all I have
left to say is: I have a corner, a little corner where
I can breathe, I once more believe in poetry, or she
believes in me again! It’s hard to shout in the dark so
the words flee our mouths like luminous stones.
Writing before death is the only thing that a poet
can truly do. That’s why the words of a poem should
all be fatal. Despite the dark games and delicate
tortures, death has the color and the vigor of
hope. If not, how would it be possible to make poetry from it?
Death first makes poetry of us, it writes
verses and prose on our bodies, it drives us waving divine
flags towards the great dwelling. Maybe death will be the best
thing life has. It’s the chance to reconcile ourselves
with time, which is our substance.
Death reclines beside me like a faithful lover, or like a
piece of forgotten gold. I take her in my hands, and
transform the lover into beloved, and the gold I transform into
words.

21 October 1978




{ Ludovico Silva, Cuaderno de la noche, Caracas: Editorial Arte, 1979 }

12.18.2016

Hamburgo, 5 de Febrero de 1930 / José Antonio Ramos Sucre

Hamburg, February 5th, 1930

Ms. Dolores Emilia Madriz.
Cumaná.

Illustrious Dolores Emilia:

     I’ve answered the very polite letter you sent me at Juan’s house and now I’ll refer to another one from January 6th. In this new letter you give me the same unvarying solicitude regarding my health.
     But you talk about coming to Europe next April counting on my health.
     By that date the tremendous problem of my health won’t be resolved. I myself don’t even know what I have. I suspect all this horror comes from a parasite infection and two specialists I’ve consulted think the same thing. But if the sickness has its own independent existence and it isn’t related to that infection, then I’m doomed.
     I don’t even know how my brain manages to write a letter.
     The tropical institute in Hamburg assures me they’ve cured the amoebiasis perfectly. But the nervous anxiety hasn’t disappeared yet and it manifests itself in contradictory ways.
     This very week I leave for the Tyrol, where they’ll give me a new treatment to help me recover from the exhaustion and to wean me off the sleeping pills.
     Only the fear of suicide allows me to suffer with such patience. I’ll be good to you and you’ll be happy. But this process has to be decided still.
     German women are adorable, very pretty, of a child-like nature. German men hit their wives. One night I saved a girl from being run over by a car and she clung to me and I had never felt like I did then the infallible victory of women, of the defenseless creature, over compassionate men. The little German girl was like Luisa Elena Almándoz. She was full of terror and was moaning. She was absolutely lacking in virtue or ferocity.
     By the way, everyone in Europe is immoral, they live and let everyone else live. The roars of anthropophagous virtue aren’t heard around here. The Europeans work at a frightening pace and they’re very friendly. No one here curses or blasphemes. These are very cultured countries. I should have been born in Europe because I’m very corrupted*, in other words human.
     You know me.




* “In the facsimile published by the magazine Oriente, 1981, it’s evident that Ramos Sucre crossed out the syllable “com” with a line and an x, which proves he started to write the word “compasivo” [compassionate] before it occurred to him to play with the meaning and surprise his cousin with the unexpected “corrompido” [corrupted].”
(Alba Rosa Hernández Bossio)




{ José Antonio Ramos Sucre, Obra poética, Edición crítica de Alba Rosa Hernández Bossio, Madrid: Colección Archivos, 2001 }

12.10.2016

Ginebra, 13 de marzo de 1930 / José Antonio Ramos Sucre

Geneva, March 13th, 1930

Don César Zumeta, Minister of Venezuela.
Paris - Beethoven 3.

My respected friend:
     I greet you with due respect and want to tell you I’ve returned here.
     My illness, a perpetual insomnia, won’t prevent me from serving and obliging you. And if fate were so benevolent as to reduce that illness and I’m able to find relief, I will commit the fearless act of visiting you in Paris. Above all it’s important for me to meet such a spiritual person.
     Mr. Yépez has helped me out with exquisite charity. I hope to be as solicitous with my colleagues and compatriots. I won’t voluntarily give my superiors any motive for censure.
     I protest, mister Zumeta, my affection and consideration.

                                                            JOSÉ ANTONIO RAMOS SUCRE




Los Aires del Presagio, ed. Rafael Ángel Insausti, 2nda ed. (Caracas: Monte Ávila Editores, 1976)




{ José Antonio Ramos Sucre, Obra completa, edición de José Ramón Medina, Caracas: Biblioteca Ayacucho, 1989 }

12.07.2016

Hamburgo, 6 de febrero de 1930 / José Antonio Ramos Sucre

Hamburg, February 6th, 1930

Mr. Luis Yépez, General Consul of Venezuela.
Geneva. Rue du Rhône, 39.

Dear Luis:

     The Tropical Institute has released me and declares the illness has been perfectly cured. They’re recommending I go to a sanatorium in Merano and once I get there I’ll write you.
     It was several days ago I sent you those 318 francs again that were needed to smooth out the matter of the consulate’s office. I used a more explicit address.
     The nervous disorders, my desperation, haven’t ceased yet. They’re very singular and they completely disconcert me. The insomnia continues to be horrible.
     If these phenomena don’t disappear, I will have fallen into the deepest disgrace. I would lose my mental faculties.
     I’ve only received a single check so far. You shouldn’t pay me in Hamburg anymore. I’ll be leaving this city tomorrow or the day after.
     I’m sorry about any inconveniences I might cause you.
     I uncover myself to your wife and I hug and kiss the little ones.
     I am your most affectionate,
                                                            JOSÉ ANTONIO



Los Aires del Presagio, ed. Rafael Ángel Insausti (Caracas: Colección Rescate, 1960)




{ José Antonio Ramos Sucre, Obra completa, edición de José Ramón Medina, Caracas: Biblioteca Ayacucho, 1989 }

12.01.2016

Caracas-Hamburgo, 7 de enero de 1930. / José Antonio Ramos Sucre

Caracas-Hamburg, January 7th, 1930.

Mr. José Nucete Sardi.
Caracas.

My dear Nucete:

Send me your book again. The one you gave me must have been left behind at the Ministry, when it was time for me to travel. From here it must have gone to a used book store. That’s what I suspect.
     Send me your book to the General Consulate of Venezuela, home of the incomparable Rafael Paredes. I’ve remembered you quite a bit with him.
     I’m now at the Mühlens clinic and I hope to cure my intestine, author of my collapse. The insomnia, of an unusual tenacity, threatens my mental faculties.
     Say thank you for me to Pedro Sotillo for his generous notes on my work and tell him he’s mistaken when he qualifies me as a misogynist. I am a brother to every woman and no one can accuse me of being negligent in their service, much less cruel. The aphorisms I wrote are shots in the air.
     I’ll write everyone at least once. Now I’m trying to resist the treatment. The nervous system is a wreck.
     Take care of yourself and accept the friendship of
                                                                                     JOSÉ ANTONIO RAMOS SUCRE
     How’s the little girl?




Los Aires del Presagio, ed. Rafael Ángel Insausti, 2nda ed. (Caracas: Monte Ávila Editores, 1976)




{ José Antonio Ramos Sucre, Obra completa, edición de José Ramón Medina, Caracas: Biblioteca Ayacucho, 1989 }

11.30.2016

Hamburgo, 5 de enero de 1930 / José Antonio Ramos Sucre

Hamburg, January 5th, 1930

Mr. César Zumeta, Minister of Venezuela.
Paris.

Don César:

I will begin by telling you the don is well donated and that my last name doesn’t lend itself to spiritual word play. It’s worth repeating I’ve professed an invariable sympathy towards you since my childhood and no cause will keep me from cultivating it. I feel honored to have a superior of your qualities.
     The General Consulate of Venezuela here gave me a letter from you and I’m now responding with these inarticulate lines. I beg your understanding for a person afflicted by agonizing insomnias, direct enemies of my mental faculties. It seems a tropical parasite has precipitated this ruin —and I inherit the insomnia and have suffered it for the past eight years.
     I protest that my illness won’t stop me from satisfying my superiors.
     During the insomnia last night I examined a short novel by Goethe, an episode inserted in Wilhelm Meister, and whose name is Bekenntnisse einer Schönen Seele. If you were here, we could admire together that poet’s ability to describe the scruples of a nostalgic soul, agitated by theological restlessness. No critic of Goethe has ever mentioned that brief moment in Wilhelm Meister. At least, I don’t know of any reference from any commentator. Here Goethe differs from the pantheist and the naturalist.
     In conclusion, I promise to go to Paris and give you a hug.
                                                                                     JOSÉ ANTONIO RAMOS SUCRE




Los Aires del Presagio, ed. Rafael Ángel Insausti, 2nda ed. (Caracas: Monte Ávila Editores, 1976)




{ José Antonio Ramos Sucre, Obra completa, edición de José Ramón Medina, Caracas: Biblioteca Ayacucho, 1989 }

11.29.2016

Hamburgo, 29-12-29. / José Antonio Ramos Sucre

Hamburg, 12-29-29.

HOTEL ESPLANADE
HAMBURG, 36

Mr. Luis Yépez, General Consul of Venezuela.
Geneva, Rue du Rhône, 39.

My dear Luis:

I’ll start by telling you I’ve kept my promise and have sent you my last two books. I warn you Dr. Hurtado and I have spoken affectionately about you each night of our interview at the Hotel Bellevue. Such harmony between you two makes me happy. I waited for you until the 27th, the day of my precipitated departure for Germany. I should actually call it an escape. I really need to talk to you.
     I beg you keep the actual office for the consulate on Rue du Rhône. I’m willing to ratify whatever diligence you carry out with that goal in mind, for as long as I’m in Hamburg. Celebrate me a humanitarian contract. I’m at the service of Mr. Dunand and I can write whatever letter he might require, as long as you approve it.
     I bow to your lady and caress your children. I hope to enter the Mühlens clinic, tropical institute. I’ll write you once I’m there.

                                                                                     JOSÉ ANTONIO RAMOS SUCRE




Los Aires del Presagio, ed. Rafael Ángel Insausti (Caracas: Colección Rescate, 1960)




{ José Antonio Ramos Sucre, Obra completa, edición de José Ramón Medina, Caracas: Biblioteca Ayacucho, 1989 }

11.24.2016

Merano, 25 de febrero de 1930 / José Antonio Ramos Sucre

Merano, February 25th, 1930

My dear Luis,

     I’m inconsolable about your return to America and your demotion. I want to know the exact day you leave Geneva.I need to see you for a few days to talk about a thousand matters and about the administration of my consulate. I also want you to find me or point out a decent room with no noise and no cold, because my disease is exasperated by both phenomena.
     I’m going to find myself very alone in Switzerland when you’re gone. I possess the habit of suffering, but I’m exhausted by the inner life of the ascetic, of the sick person, of the abnormal. Leopardi is my equal. You would have been of great service and our friendship is fraternal.
     I will write Itriago about you telling him a thousand wonders.
     For now, I won’t send anything to Caracas with you.
     I bow to your wife and hug and kiss the children.
     I am your addict,

José Antonio




{ José Antonio Ramos Sucre, Obra poética, Edición crítica de Alba Rosa Hernández Bossio, Madrid: Colección Archivos, 2001 }

11.22.2016

Merano. [Febrero, 1930] / José Antonio Ramos Sucre

Merano. [February, 1930]*

Mister Luis Yépez, General Consul of Venezuela.
Geneva. Rue du Rhône, 39.

Dear Luis:

     I’m here in Merano at your command. I arrived the day before yesterday via Munich and I’m living in the Stephanie sanatorium. I hope to see what path this horrible disease takes. The doctors in Hamburg, among them a specialist in nervous illnesses, examined me from head to toe and can only find a deep debility. The director of the sanatorium here says the same thing.
     I feel as though I’m gravely wounded. I can spend hours at a time in bed without any movement and without trying to get up. I warn you there’s nothing pleasant about the feeling of debility. I expect this whole process will lead me to consumption.
     I’ve discovered a vestige of Goethe here, the street with his name, and I’ve added this find to the memory of Manuel Díaz Rodríguez, who once talked to me about the ethnic composition of the Tyrol. Many Slavs. The German poet must have lived here on his way to Italy. I don’t have the means of verifying this conjecture. I precisely remember his stay in Trento, where he discovered only a single distinguished building: a palace attributed to the devil, that he’d built in a single night.
     I’m sorry that my absence is prolonged and tell Blanco that I’m not in Hamburg. I’d like to spend at least a month here. I count on your generosity. I have a few cents left from the monthly pay you sent me.
     My apologies to Zumeta and Hurtado Machado. The treatment doesn’t let me write them. I don’t have time.
     I uncover myself to your wife and I hug and kiss your children.
     Send me.

J.A.R.S.




*Luis Yépez gave seven letters from Ramos Sucre to Rafael Ángel Insausti for their transcription and publication in the anthology Los aires del presagio (1960). This one wasn’t dated, but Ramos Sucre left for Merano during the first week in February, after the 5th; which means it must have been written during the second week of the month. All the letters to Luis Yépez were handwritten and signed, the first one “José Antonio Ramos Sucre,” but the following ones just “José Antonio” or “J.A.R.S.”




{ José Antonio Ramos Sucre, Obra poética, Edición crítica de Alba Rosa Hernández Bossio, Madrid: Colección Archivos, 2001 }

11.21.2016

Cuentas claras / Rafael Cadenas

Clean Slate

Everything I wrote,
clumsy or acceptable,
belongs to me.
Actually, it belongs to many.

And I should
also accept
everything I did,
I should welcome it,
situate its place,
with no judgment.

Finally
what I didn’t do,
the reverse that completes me
sadly
urging me to lower my voice.




{ Rafael Cadenas, En torno a Basho y otros asuntos, Madrid: Pre-Textos, 2016 }

11.20.2016

Hoy / Rafael Cadenas

Today

Do people
still talk
about the poem?

It’s barely
even written.

There are
so many
collapses
and then,
then
a desire
for articulation.




{ Rafael Cadenas, En torno a Basho y otros asuntos, Madrid: Pre-Textos, 2016 }

11.18.2016

Colonia / Rafael Cadenas

Colonia

These foreigners
made light wooden houses,
they clung to the mountainous hills,
seeming to hide in them
and barely touched the forest,
penetrated
and let it blanket them.
They only took what they needed,
so today the town
melts into the mountain that seems
interrupted by houses.
This is called clean work
without harming the earth, but instead
becoming its friend.
We didn’t learn that simple art
or what this place is trying to tell us.
What understanding expands
like fragrant news
across these valleys.




{ Rafael Cadenas, En torno a Basho y otros asuntos, Madrid: Pre-Textos, 2016 }