The 30th LOEWE FOUNDATION International Poetry Prizes were just presented at the traditional meal held in Madrid’s Westin Palace Hotel, with numerous well-known representatives from the fields of culture, literature and design in attendance. In her welcome, the Foundation’s Director Sheila Loewe made special mention of Chus Visor for accompanying the Foundation during this three-decade journey by publishing the winning books of poems and including them in her poetry collection.
On such a special day, Sheila Loewe made a point of thanking all LOEWE employees as well as “the small, but incredible LOEWE FOUNDATION team responsible for making this and many other beautiful things possible”. This year, in commemoration of the Prize’s 30th edition, the Foundation has commissioned Luis Antonio de Villena to curate a new poetry anthology of the winning books and, as the Director explained, on 21st March –which is International Poetry Day – the documentary titled Poesía eres tú will be presented “featuring some of the most important moments in the history of the Prize, as well as some of the most important voices in Spanish poetry discussing how they see the future of poetry”. Enrique Loewe, Honorary President of the LOEWE FOUNDATION –who was “visibly moved and satisfied” with the evolution of the Prize– admitted that he “had always dreamt of a day like today”. He also explained that poetry “has changed and benefited me, but it has also changed my company; it has given it a certain sensibility, perspective, vision, rigour, refinement, special search”. He was also deeply grateful for the fact that out of his 55 years at LOEWE “30 of them were spent enjoying and working on this project”. Enrique Loewe also remembered poets Pablo García Baena and Antonio Cabrera.
Author and translator Elvira Sastre, when presenting the book that won the Loewe Young Poet’s Award –Un hogar fuera de mí by Luciana Leif– defined it as a book of poems “that one doesn’t find by chance, but rather, a book that is strategically placed on a table for you to discover”. Sastre, who did not know the Argentinian poet, feels “that she has discovered a necessary author” and recalled how she read the book shortly after the mass march that took place this past 8th of March on International Women’s Day, a demonstration she ventured is “crucial for the development of our world”. When talking about the author, Elvira Sastre explained that “she is a sociologist, a feminist who believes in the power of poetry as a means of social denunciation. Her writing is strong and she demands to be heard”. Luciana Reif, upon collecting her Award, declared that “one never writes alone, and a book shows and hides, as all objects do, the fetish of the conditions that make its own existence possible”. She thanked her family for educating her to be “free and rebellious”, her studies in Sociology for teaching her that “the world is much more complicated than it seems”, the “feminist movement and the women fighting for their rights”, her partner for teaching her “that we must love more than ourselves”, and poetry because, “more than anything else, it teaches us a lot about all this”.
Journalist and author Ignacio Elguero, when presenting La poesía celeste –the winner of the 30th Loewe Prize– pointed out that its author, poet Ben Clark, is barely three years older than the Prize: “If thirty years give a prize maturity, then poetic maturity is what stands out in this book”. He also underscored the book’s originality and revealed that the inspiration for the title came from a meeting of astronomers looking for a lost planet at the beginning of the 19th century in northern Germany, a meeting around which some of the book’s poems were written. “The process of poetic creation and the process of human creation both beat throughout” the work, added Elguero. As such, “a poetic body emerges with various themes, out of which two stand out: father and son relationships, with poems of great emotional intensity, and existential reflection, which explores the human concerns we all share”. The poet uses “large spaces and astronomy in particular; hence the title”. The result, as Elguero points out, are poems “of great expressive power, with very suggestive images” that are sometimes inspired by “anecdotal occurrences or everyday events”, which the poet then uses to “reveal emotions”. For Elguero, that is the book’s greatest achievement: its ability to stir up the reader’s emotions. When picking up his Prize, Ben Clark quoted scientist Stephen Hawking –who had died that same day– saying that we should “look up at the stars and not down at our feet”. “In an increasingly impatient world”, Clark said, “I have tried, with this book, to momentarily divert our attention away from screens, from everyday life… so that we may once again rise towards the stars and the eternal themes of poetry: time, death, and the only cure that exists: love”.
On Tuesday, 20th March at 7:30 p.m., the authors will read excerpts from their prize-winning books in Madrid’s Casa de América. Luis Antonio de Villena will host.
Photo Captions: The winners of the 30th LOEWE FOUNDATION International Poetry Prize, Luciana Leif and Ben Clark with Enrique Loewe and Sheila Loewe © Álvaro Tomé for the LOEWE FOUNDATION, 2018.