Category Archives: Poetry

Diego Doncel and Mario Obrero win the 33rd edition of the LOEWE Foundation International Poetry Prize

Diego Doncel, the winner of the 33rd LOEWE FOUNDATION International Poetry Prize, is from Malpartida, a small town located in the Spanish province of Cáceres. His book of poems La fragilidad was chosen by a Jury presided by Víctor García de la Concha and made up of members Gioconda Belli, Antonio Colinas, Aurora Egido, Margo Glantz, Juan Antonio González Iglesias, Carme Riera, Jaime Siles, Luis Antonio de Villena, and Aurora Luque. The recipient of this year’s Young Poet’s Award is 17-year old Mario Obrero for his book Peachtree City, which he wrote when he was 16 years old, making this poet from Madrid the youngest winner in the history of the LOEWE Prize.

A total of 1,247 entries from 36 different countries were received, 25% of which came from Latin American countries. This represents an increase of 19.4% when compared to last year, a clear sign that the Prize gains traction not just in size but also in its reach. Going forward, the age limit for the Young Poet’s award will be set at 33 years of age, three years more than the previous age limit.

In reference to La fragilidad, the Jury stated that it is “a solid and well-constructed collection of poetry, both in the subject matters it broaches as well as in its approach.” Poet Jaime Siles highlighted “the vital and expressive maturity” the poems reveal, explaining that Diego Doncel’s “voice shows depth as well as a unique and personal view of our existence derived from a personal theory of what life means, making his diction more approachable, while demonstrating the way in which today’s civilization looks away from pain and death, but from the perspective of hope’s solidarity.” Siles also adds that “there is nothing superfluous or missing in the book”. Diego Doncel, who is from Madrid, is a poet and a writer of fiction and essays. He won the 1990 Adonais Prize, the 2015 Telefónica Foundation Tiflos Prize, and the 2015 Diálogo de Culturas Prize. His work has been translated into English, French, Italian, Portuguese, and Chinese.

HACIA LA FELICIDAD

Oye, desde tu muerte, el rumor del jardín
en esta tarde de junio, las flores suspendidas
en las fotos de los turistas, la transparencia
de los brotes como el tejido transparente
que cubre las piernas de esa chica,
toda esta geometría de la fragilidad.

El verano está ebrio porque no ha dejado de beber
desde primeras horas de la mañana. Va feliz
por las mesas de los bares o picotea en el agua
de la fuente un rectángulo de luz.

No hay ninguna arruga en el océano, ninguna huella del tiempo,
solo una superficie lisa en la que flotan, ingrávidos,
los barcos y los bañistas. Una mujer con un bikini celeste
sale chorreando la materia color caramelo
del agua, y va a donde tiene amontonada su ropa.
La playa huele a crema bronceadora, a marihuana,
a la cerveza de la claridad. La vida muere en una ola
y nace en la ola que se aproxima.
No es posible ningún pensamiento, solo este acontecer
diáfano de los sentidos, esta suspensión del yo.
Tal vez te moriste para que el dolor me haya traído
de nuevo hasta aquí, para encontrar de esta forma la felicidad.

La calma que nunca tuve se tiende ahora
sobre las superficies de las toallas, la pasión vuelve a volar
como un pájaro marino por los cristales de unas gafas de sol.

Viví tan lleno de miedo que no tenía refugio,
temí y destruí lo que debía amar. La muerte ensucia
lo que más se quiere, como los perros y los insomnios.

Pero solo quien conoce el agua y la tierra
sabe que guardan el secreto de la germinación.

Las huellas están detenidas en la arena mirando el horizonte.
La brisa empieza a quitarle ya el polvo al océano
para que pronto luzcan las estrellas.

Los libros están en silencio bajo las sombrillas, esperando.

Todo espera porque entre tú y yo puede haber noche pero nunca muerte,
puede haber lejanía pero nunca ausencia.
Este trozo de mar me lo enseñaste tú.
La sabiduría nos lleva a la infancia.

Diego Doncel
LOEWE Prize 2020
La fragilidad

Mario Obrero began writing poetry when he was 7 years old. In 2018, he won the Poesía Félix Grande Prize for his book Carpintería de armónicos and, in 2019, he published his second book of poems, featuring his own illustrations. He completed his junior year of high school in the U.S., in Peachtree City, Georgia, and is currently a senior studying Humanities at IES La Senda, located in Getafe (Madrid).

Poet Gioconda Belli, impressed with both Mario Obrero’s youth as well as the book’s “most unusual images”, highlighted “a poetic breath that captures globalisation’s cultural multiplicity” while producing “a surprising book of poems written with irony and acumen.”

 

(Sin título)

Cumplo dieciséis años con unas alpargatas de esparto y el sonido de las cosas escondidas
cumplo dieciséis años como quien apaga las tostadoras del paraíso cada mañana
como un nuevo padre que busca happy birthday en el traductor
las hogueras sobre mis sueños lejanos leen el horóscopo y dibujan caballos con su sangre
no pido grandes desfiles
cumplo dieciséis años pero tampoco es el Día Nacional del Guacamole
comeré cereales y tartas calientes y apio con crema de cacahuete
ataviado con chaleco de perejil y bajo el pestillo de las puertas siento a los pechos temblar
en montones de azúcar
cumplo dieciséis años y noto mi alma crujir como rodillas adolescentes
crezco y me veo tan dentro que los recolectores de azafrán repiten el pretérito imperfecto del verbo connaître
los poetas tienen una caja de lápices que abren cada atardecer mientras lloran en griego
bailo sobre una tierra y pronuncio lentamente mi nombre.

Mario Obrero
LOEWE Young Poet’s Award 2020
Peachtree City

The award ceremony will take place in March 2021 and the winning books will be published by Editorial Visor.

Photo Captions: Diego Doncel and Mario Obrero

Aurora Luque looks at past female role models

For Aurora Luque (Almería, Spain, 1962), winning the 32nd LOEWE FOUNDATION International Poetry Prize has been “an honour, a responsibility and a source of inspiration.” The poet praises “the enthusiasm and effort the LOEWE FOUNDATION puts forward to promote the Prize and ensure the books reach critics and, most importantly, readers.” Luque hopes “it will set an example for others to follow.”

Gavieras, the award-winning book, is the newest addition to her prolific writing career; Luque, who is a classical philologist, poet, translator, and columnist, goes on to explain that Gavieras is not “all that different” from her other works. “What has become clear to me over the past few years is that an existence based on a fixed identity and linked to an unalterable language and status is being called into question.” Perhaps that is why “we need to focus on myths that are structurally different and that allow us to redefine or reconstruct the meaning of “identity”, particularly the female one.” For Luque, “the most attractive models are those that allow characters to change and evolve, to be in constant search, to be dynamic. When faced with past static individual and female models, why not dream of new, richer, less “still”, more fluid ones? The gaviera, the flâneuse, the gleaner, the neodanaide, the woman who narrates her descensus ad ínferos (traditionally told from the male perspective: Odysseus, Aeneas). Why not take inspiration from the experiences of past female roamers, travelers, game changers, disruptors, or women who have been displaced or been forced into exile?”

For Aurora Luque, the list of LOEWE Prize winning books is “a key compilation of recent poetry, with the best of the newest talent, not because they represent an official group, but because of the aesthetics that they uphold.” Something that is a source of great personal satisfaction, since “the very first readings of living poets that I attended at university were theirs: I remember seeing Jaime Siles, Antonio Colinas, Luis Antonio de Villena, Guillermo Carnero, and José María Álvarez walk into the Madraza in Granada. Listening to their poetry meant discovering entire new worlds.” Luque does point to what she calls “an objective novelty”: after Cristina Peri Rossi, she is only the second female to ever receive the Prize. “In that sense, I feel somewhat alone. I’m hopeful that will change going forward.”

In some of Gavieras’ poems, Luque reviews and rewrites ancient myths “with certain fierceness. Those with hushed undertones; where whispers abound. I focus on what the characters, particularly the heroines and goddesses, are not telling us: Amphitrite, Danaides, Medea, Eurydice, Aphrodite, the anonymous prehistoric “goddesses.” Luque also adds that “myths represent language and I question the pitfalls of language; the ways in which it provokes or imposes silence.”

The refugees, according to Aeschylus

Sand between the toes
We didn’t know of knots or about oars.
We learned rigging tasks
on the fine sands of the Nile, by the sea.
Of all the misfortunes
we chose the noblest,
to escape freely.
We travelled, like Io
escaping from the beds where Eros
sowed horseflies, jealousy, asphyxia, landlords,
The ship is our floating agora.
We sail searching for the city
—You are looking for a city?
— Oh, yes, we want it. We can build it.
We know how to build
altars. To Athena the seafarer
we pray in Rhodes
with our free lips.
Do not grow up in the houses
caverns of rude Cyclops.
We long to search for fountains
in the Earth’s clean entrails.
May our orchards never be watered
by Ares’ blood.

Aurora Luque
LOEWE Prize 2019
Gavieras

Poem Translation by Orlando Ocampo

Photo Caption: LOEWE FOUNDATION International Poetry Prize © FUNDACIÓN LOEWE, 2019.

The female voice prevails in the 32nd LOEWE Poetry Prize

Gavieras, by Aurora Luque (Almería, Spain, 1962), has been awarded the 32nd LOEWE FOUNDATION International Poetry Prize by a jury chaired by Víctor García de la Concha and made up of members Gioconda Belli, Antonio Colinas, Aurora Egido, Margo Glantz, Juan Antonio González Iglesias, Jaime Siles, Luis Antonio de Villena, and Basilio Sánchez, the 2018 Prize recipient. The winner of this year’s Young Poet’s Award is Aunque los mapas, by Raquel Vázquez (Belmonte, Lugo, Spain, 1990).

Today at the LOEWE Gran Vía store in Madrid, Sheila Loewe, the Foundation’s President, announced the names of the winners in the presence of both poets and a few Jury members. Víctor García de la Concha’s first words, spoken before reading the Jury’s minutes, were for Enrique Loewe, who was also present. For a number of years, they shared the joy of carrying the prize together.

Gioconda Belli presented Aunque los mapas, by Raquel Vázquez, the recipient of the award given to authors who are under 30 years of age, explaining that the Jury had unanimously recognized the maturity shown by this young woman. Her poetry “comes from a very intimate place, allowing her to create a world filled with images that dazzle because of their originality and depth. A world that speaks of encounters and losses without sentimentality”. Her poetry is “both accessible and refined ” and the Jury was able to identify endings “with strong and powerful images, such as the dancer who knows exactly how to move so that we remember her in our mind’s eye, even when we no longer hear the music”. Belli expressed how happy she was that “this country’s centuries-old tradition of writing great poetry” has survived among young Spaniards.

Raquel Vázquez, who was incredibly grateful, found it “difficult to express how much it means to be here right now, not just because of the Prize or the fact that Aunque los mapas will be a published book -and in such a magnificent way-  but also because of this shared joy over that ephemeral, fragile, and almost precarious illusion that everything is fine; and that is a feeling that in and of itself, is a gift.”

HIROSHIMA

El tiempo en Hiroshima avanza en bicicleta.
Cíclicamente en los parques florecen
rosas y rayos gamma.
Un niño pedalea a lo largo del Ôta
con barba encanecida.
Otro juega al balón, no teme aún al cielo.
Una anciana recuerda la seda del yukata
derramada en las manos de su madre.
Febrilmente una joven hace el cómputo
de camisas radiactivas, palomas
blancas ante su ingreso por primera
vez en un hospital.
Un peatón se detiene.
Está azul el semáforo.  Entrecierra
los ojos para ver, cree ver.  Avanza.
Cruza un pájaro la rueda del sol
sin saber de los tarde.
Sin saber del dolor o de los nunca.
La bomba atómica sigue cayendo.
Sólo vemos la luz,
no cómo nos quemamos.

Raquel Vázquez
Aunque los mapas
32nd LOEWE FOUNDATION International Young Poets Award

Poet Juan Antonio González Iglesias presented Gavieras, this year’s winning book: “The name `LOEWE Prize´ honours all those who have received it, but I think I can say that the name Aurora Luque also honours the Prize. It was a pleasant surprise for all of us to confirm that we were welcoming one of poetry’s giants into our already outstanding roster.” He went on to explain that Luque’s book takes “a rather odd traditional Spanish noun and makes it feminine and plural, offering a perspective that could become historical because it deals with many women, whose individual traces, when put together, draw the poet’s self-portrait. We very much value the feminine and the plural when awarding the Prize.” He also pointed out “the humanist spirit” that addresses “the condition of women, and therefore the human condition; our condition. Female figures from Greco-Roman times to today’s urban, postmodern, and pop culture. She begins with Safo, recalling simple elements of ancient cultures that we oftentimes forget.” González Iglesias also highlighted the winning book’s references to Joaquín Sabina and Polanski as a way to “celebrate urban culture and free time.” Aurora Luque expressed her gratitude for the Prize and showed her joy at being the newest member of its cast. She highlighted that the Jury “is made up of people I deeply admire. They are the main reason why I submitted my work and I hope LOEWE continues to support poetry for many centuries.” She then explained that while writing some of the poems of the winning book, she was also preparing her newest translation of Safo’s work, including a few newly found poems. And it was precisely while rediscovering the Greek poet, that one of Gaviera’s masterpieces was born.

HABLO A SAFO

Ven en mi ayuda, Safo,
¿me traes unas alas? Dos juegos:
Unas para mi espalda
-¿Se clavan? ¿Me harán daño?-
y unas leves de abeja
para cada palabra.
Trae miel de la tuya, de la amarga.
Esas cosas antiguas
-miel, sandalias, frescor,
las alfombras marinas de la luna
que esconden a la muerte deseante,
aletazos violentos que ponen a saltar,
como pez en la arena, al corazón,
una ambición de voluptuosidades.
Paladear recuerdos
o lamer una piel que ha regresado
de gozar la negrura de las olas,
miel recién fabricada,
hierbas para acostarse a mediodía,
rosas sin hibridar.
No nos son tan ajenos tus objetos.
Sólo hay que detenerse.
Pedírtelos.
Apartar tanto ruido.
Pues nos falta muy poco
para estar muertas.
Tráeme, Safo, alas,
alas, alas, frescor,
silencio, brazos,
alas.

Aurora Luque
Gavieras
32nd LOEWE FOUNDATION International Poetry Prize

The award ceremony and presentation of the winning books published by Colección Visor de Poesía will be held next March, 2020 in Madrid.

Photo Captions: Aurora Egido and Raquel Vázquez in the LOEWE Gran Vía store. The Jury of the 32nd LOEWE FOUNDATION International Poetry Prize © LOEWE FOUNDATION, 2019.

Antonio Cabrera

 

We want to share two poems of our passed friend Antonio Cabrera, winner of the International Poetry Prize Loewe Foundation in 1999, who will always be dearly remembered.

ANTONIO CABRERA

XII Winner Loewe Foundation Poetry Prize

 

LA INTIMIDAD

Vine hasta aquí para escuchar la voz,
la voz que según dicen nos habla desde dentro
y endulza la verdad si la verdad
merece una degustación serena,
o la hace más amarga si es amarga,
con sólo pronunciar la negra hiel
que ha reposado intacta entre sus sílabas.
Vine hasta aquí para escuchar la voz
que no sabe, ni quiere, ni podría engañarnos.

Elegí este lugar de belleza imprevista.
(Llegué hasta él casualmente un día de abril
por el que navegaban nubes grandes,
manchas oscuras sobre el suelo, pruebas
acaso necesarias de que la luz habita
entre nosotros: esa transparencia
que olvidamos y que es, al mismo tiempo,
difícil y evidente.)
Diré por qué es tan bello este lugar:
forma un valle cerrado entre montes boscosos,
un circo escueto que circundan peñas
rojizas, donde el viento es un cuervo
delicado aunque fúnebre;
los hombres han arado su parte más profunda,
y allí crece el olivo y unos pocos almendros
y un ciprés y una acacia; las sombras del pinar
asedian desde entonces las lindes de estos campos,
su yerba luminosa, y el pedregal resiste
como un altar al sol; todo tiene una pátina
de realidad, un ansia, un prestigio remoto.

Porque creí que este silencio era
igual al de una estancia solitaria,
vine a escuchar la voz que desde dentro
nos habla de nosotros mismos. Pero
pasa el tiempo y escucho solamente
la prisa del lagarto que se aparta de mí
Y el vuelo siseante de la abeja,
no mi voz interior.
Todo es externo.
Y las palabras vienen
a mí y en mí se dicen ellas solas:
la ladera encendida bajo la nube exacta,
el bronce del lentisco,
una roca que liquen acaricia…
Lo íntimo es el mundo. Con su callado oxígeno
Sofoca sin remedio la voz que quiere hablar,
la disuelve, la absorbe.

He venido hasta aquí para escucharme
y todo lo que alienta o es presente
me ha hecho enmudecer para decirse.

LA ESTACION PERPETUA

El invierno se fue. ¿Qué habré perdido?
¿Qué desapareció, con él, de mi conciencia?

(Esta preocupación -seguramente absurda-
por conocer aquello que nos huye,
me obliga a convertir el aire frío
en pensado cristal sobre mi piel pensada,
y a convertir la gloria entristecida
de los húmedos días invernales
en la imposible luz que su concepto irradia;
esta preocupación, en fin, tiene la culpa
-y qué confuso y dulce me parece-
de que duerman en mí los árboles dormidos.)

El invierno se fue, pero nada se lleva.
Me queda siempre la estación perpetua:
mi mente repetida y sola

 

Basilio Sánchez, silent writing

Basilio Sánchez (Cáceres, Spain – 1958), winner of the 31st LOEWE Foundation International Poetry Prize, lived the award ceremony with “a feeling that no one wanted it to end; there was a widespread sense of kindness that made me feel cared for, protected, and even loved,” he explains. The poet, who has ten published books under his belt, believes he received the Prize at the pinnacle of his career as a poet, “when what I had been writing had reached its highest point of refinement. I believed I’d done a good job with He heredado un nogal sobre la tumba de los reyes, that it had come together well and that, because it was untitled, it was a sort of meditative book; as if one were speaking exclusively to oneself without needing raise one’s voice or convince anyone of anything,” he says.

 

Representing the type of whispered poetry that sits outside of today’s most common platforms, Basilio Sánchez has celebrated the Prize both for him and for what his writing represents. He explains that “the poetry one hears today is young poetry; the type that virtual bookstores promote in their window displays. At a time when the immediacy and transience of ‘disposable’ poetry predominates -when one writes something one day, posts it the following day, and then the next day receives several thousand ‘likes’- rewarding a book of poetry written methodically, over time, using pencil and paper; a book that is based on years of experience… I quite like that, because it’s the best way to vindicate the type of writing I believe in.” A poetry, he adds, that is “grounded, slow, written to last, and not to survive on social networks.” The recognition of his book, he insists, “vindicates a huge group of poets I admire greatly, whose work I have read over the years, who are my age and who have been writing silently, outside of the networks”. His poetry, he explains, “drinks from tradition, without erasing or rejecting it. It feeds off of it and respectfully tries to find its own path.”

Flattered by the fact that his literary role-models have considered his book worthy of this Price, he remembers the relevance of its Jury. “I read their poetry when I started writing and now, to see them sitting there, reading my book … and, what’s more, liking it!” he says with self-admiration and humour. He specifically names Jaime Siles, Caballero Bonald, Francisco Brines, Antonio Colinas and De Villena. “Víctor García de la Concha – President of the Jury- was a prominent literary critic when I started out; we all wished for him to review our books,” he adds. Come next edition, Sánchez will be one the Jury members. “It will be tough, but I will dedicate the same effort to judging than to writing; it is a huge responsibility because the prestige of both the Prize and the Jury is at stake…and because we are entrusted with choosing a worthy book,” he says stressing that it must “be a book that truly rises above the others, regardless of affinities or fashions, because there are, in fact, certain elements that give the work value.” Basilio Sánchez considers himself “a worker of poetry; not just of poetry itself but of all aspects of writing: the pencil and paper, the cover of the book, the publishing house, the readings. The winner, who is actually an M.D., recognizes the “correlation” between both activities: “Over the years I’ve discovered that the doctor I am has improved a lot thanks to poetry, but the poet has also been nourished by medicine.” However, he acknowledges, his desire is “to be a good doctor in medicine and a good poet in writing; if not, it would be suspicious. ”

In keeping with the tradition of being silent for at least a year after he finishes a book, Sánchez finds himself in that period of “apparent sterility that is actually not sterile at all, because it’s the time to emotionally recharge one’s batteries through life experiences that will emerge when the writing process begins again.” It is about resting the mind to “enjoy reading,” he says. “A pleasure almost greater than writing.”

El furtivo que merodea en la noche
se siente vigilado
desde un bosque de estrellas.

Soy una muchedumbre que camina en secreto.

Soy un pueblo a la orilla
de este mar incesante
que construye sus torres sobre las ruinas de sus aguas.

Basilio Sánchez
2018 LOEWE Prize
He heredado un nogal sobre la tumba de los reyes

Photo Captions: Basilio Sánchez at the 31st Award Ceremony of the LOEWE Foundation International Poetry Prize. Poetry reading at the Instituto Cervantes in Madrid with Luis García Montero. Interview for ‘La hora cultural’, TVE 24 horas © Álvaro Tomé for the LOEWE Foundation, 2019.

A Gathering of Friends Around Basilio Sánchez’s Poetry

The presentation of the 31st LOEWE Foundation International Poetry Prize and winning book, held at the Westin Palace Hotel in Madrid, brought together, once again, a number of stakeholders and personalities from the fields of culture, fashion, and literature. The eyes of the many well-known faces at the event were all on poet Basilio Sánchez, winner of the Prize.


Sheila Loewe, President of the LOEWE Foundation, gave a very warm welcome to what she described as “an ongoing gathering of friends around poetry”. Enrique Loewe, Honorary President of the Foundation, shared some moving words in memory of Carmen Alborch and Elio Berhanyer as he looked back on a cultural initiative that, after 31 editions, is still going strong.

Following the Award Ceremony, Antonio Colinas presented the winning book, He heredado un nogal sobre la tumba de los reyes. The title, Colina explained, “tends to the surreal and the irrational despite the work’s simplicity and pared-down virtuosity”. Colinas then pointed to the Prize’s commitment to different aesthetics. “The focus has not been on a single poetic style. On the contrary, there are as many views, perspectives, and approaches as winning works”. As such, he added, the collection of crowned books published over the past 31 years is “a three-decade chronicle, a synthesis of poetry written in Spanish”. He also mentioned the `open approach´ taken by Editorial Visor, welcoming and publishing every single winner and therefore providing an “incredible platform for Latin America, that world that we must never forget, and that often partakes in the Prize”.

“While Sanchez is an established author, his work is a bit of a secret”, said Colinas. The Prize rewards his personality, one that shies away from traditional and influential literary circuits. Colinas pointed to his other vocation –in the medical field– because it adds to his poems “a humanity that is palpable throughout everything he writes”. He called it a profound book “that requires several readings” because, beyond its raw virtuosity, “the reader feels compelled to try to figure out what is behind it”. This is a book Colinas believes is “very much needed, because it’s so different from the simplistic sentimental poetry that somehow manages to go viral in today’s world”. Finally, he praised Basilio Sánchez for remaining faithful to his personal poetic voice, “which he puts to the test in each book. He has not been unduly influenced or been seduced by siren songs that abound in today’s literary world”. As Colinas explained, in Basilio Sanchez “we have a poet”.

Basilio Sánchez thanked Colinas for “the attentive and extremely generous reading” of his poems and the Jury –among whom, he said, many of his literary role models are to be found– for having awarded him with a Prize that he doesn’t want to consider “a recognition of quality or of the more or less fortunate verses within, but rather, of the spirit that spurs it, the humanistic style that drives it, that passionate confidence with which it seeks to overcome the exhaustion and disappointment that are so rampant today”. He applauded the LOEWE Foundation’s effort to “promote and preserve this important literary contest that is capable of generating, amidst the confusion and uncertainty of our time, a moral space for poetry, the humblest but also the most necessary of the manifestations of the soul”. He thanked everyone in attendance, his friends and family, and in particular, his wife and children, to whom the book is dedicated. Sanchez then spoke of the painting –by Basilio’s own father– that illustrates the book’s cover, explaining its relationship to the verses. “It’s a meditative book”, he added, “but also the field book of a naturalist who sees words as his raison d’être and who uses both poetry and the images words can conjure to question the world and how he interacts with it.  These are verses written by someone who knows there is nothing more beautiful than allowing the night to convince you that everything is eternal”.

Photo Captions: Sheila Loewe, Basilio Sánchez and Antonio Colinas. Enrique Loewe, during his speech. Basilio Sánchez and his verses. Chus Visor, Manuela Carmena and Lourdes Garzón © Álvaro Tomé for LOEWE Foundation, 2019.

Basilio Sánchez, winner of the XXXI LOEWE Foundation International Poetry Prize

He heredado un nogal sobre la tumba de los reyes, by Basilio Sánchez (Cáceres, Spain, 1958), has been awarded the 31st LOEWE Foundation International Poetry Prize by a Jury chaired by Víctor García de la Concha and made up of members Piedad Bonnett, Francisco Brines, José Manuel Caballero Bonald, Ben Clark, Antonio Colinas, Soledad Puértolas, Aurora Egido, Jaime Siles and Luis Antonio de Villena. This year’s Young Poet’s Award was declared void. A total of 868 entries from 34 different countries were received, 20% of which came from Latin-American countries.

This morning, at the Gran Vía LOEWE store in Madrid, the name of this year’s winner was announced in the presence of Enrique Loewe, Sheila Loewe -President of the Foundation-, a few Jury members, and winners of previous editions. After Sheila Loewe’s welcome speech, Víctor García de la Concha announced the decision of the jury, whose report highlighted the “investigative approach of a book that shows a deep appreciation for the classical tradition while seeking new approaches, sounds, and meanings”. Next, poet Piedad Bonnett presented the winning book and admitted that “this year it has not been easy to choose the LOEWE Poetry Prize winner because many of the finalist works had sufficient merit to deserve the award”. She explained that the Jury members finally chose He heredado un nogal sobre la tumba de los reyes for “the unity and consistency it shows, inviting us, through its mysticism, to rediscover the natural world”. Bonnett added that this book of poems, “sets off with a contemplative view of the small things around us –their brilliance and what they reveal– while highlighting both the mystery of the origin of all that is immense as well as the work that poetry requires for an artist who is really a craftsman of the written word”. The Colombian writer went on to explain that the austerity Sánchez shows, “is not exempt, however, of a certain sensuality, visible through images that are tinged with colours, sounds, sensations” and added that this book “reaffirms poetry as an act of faith”.

Following Bonnet’s words, the winner, Basilio Sánchez, thanked the Jury and the LOEWE Foundation and explained that he was “very grateful because this is a book that has required a personal investment of two years and it contains the most essential pieces of the literature I have been writing.” He was also extremely pleased because this award shows that there is value in writing “poetry that is intimately linked to the humanist definition of what a person is and of what it means to exist, and it defends a type of poetry that shows respect for tradition and unity”. The type of poetry that Sánchez writes, “sits at the end of a long rope that has been years in the making,” he added. “It is a source of pride for me to think that I am one of the links in this chain, having learned from the poets who are sitting here today, who I think of, without a doubt, as my teachers.” For Sanchéz, He heredado un nogal sobre la tumba de los reyes is “a meditative book, a compendium of deep thoughts.” According to the author, it is “a book written by someone who sees words as his raison d’être, as part of who he is, and who uses both poetry and the images that words can conjure to question the world and how he interacts with it. Someone who is fully aware that the society he lives in is extremely meticulous about all material things, but enormously poor when it comes to spirituality; a wallflower in the party the world is immersed in who sits in silent contemplation before the grave of things that could have been, and yet doesn’t renounce the gift of the immense.” Someone who knows, he added, “that there is nothing more beautiful than allowing the night to convince you that everything is eternal.”

AMO lo que se hace lentamente,
lo que exige atención,
lo que demanda esfuerzo.

 Amo la austeridad de los que escriben
como el que excava en un pozo
o repara el esmalte de una taza. 

Mi habla es un murmullo,
una simple presencia que en la noche,
en las proximidades del vacío,
se impone por sí sola contra el miedo,
contra la soledad que nos revela
lo pequeños que somos. 

El poeta no ha elegido el futuro.
El poeta ha elegido descalzarse en el umbral del desierto.

Basilio Sánchez
LOEWE Prize 2018
He heredado un nogal sobre la tumba de los reyes

The award ceremony and book presentation will take place in March 2019. Winning books are published by Editorial Visor.

Photo Captions: Basilio Sánchez, winner of the 31st  LOEWE Foundation International Poetry Prize. Moment of deliberation of the Jury. Jury of the LOEWE Foundation International Poetry Prize, with Enrique Loewe, Sheila Loewe and Chus Visor © Álvaro Tomé for the LOEWE Foundation, 2018.

The sincere poetry of Luciana Reif

“In my mind’s eye, this prize was something so unattainable that I had subconsciously eliminated it from my memory”, explains Luciana Reif (Buenos Aires, Argentina, 1990), winner of the 30th LOEWE Foundation Young Poets Award. When she received the call from Spain, for a few minutes she naively thought ” it must be some kind of joke”. Fortunately for everyone, it wasn’t; and her book of poems Un hogar fuera de mí is now included in the list of winners and has been published by Editorial Visor.

“I had a special kind of faith in this book, an intuition of sorts, that made me wish that something special cross its path; I pondered the decision over and over again… until I finally submitted it. The book had something, and I didn’t want that something getting lost among a multitude of voices. ” A collection of poems where, Reif recognizes, she poured a lot of herself; “I don’t know if that’s good or bad, because it’s very autobiographical, it’s a reflection of my life’s journey, the transition from adolescence to adulthood, what it means to be a woman … issues that, in my day-to-day, I find problematic. “Reif has turned those conflicts into poems in which sometimes” fears become bigger than what they really are. The poetic self is quite deep, dark, and complex. I found that if I wrote two or three poems in a row, the level of anxiety I felt was such that I had to stop”. So, with this book, Luciana Reif has allowed herself to “play a little more than in real life, because one has to live, go to work, have relationships with one’s partner and one’s friends; in real life one has to be more level-headed”.

Reif wishes to preserve a creative authenticity that has her thinking that “it is inspiration that pushes a poem out, in that the verses emerge from things that may have been doing a dance in my head; and then suddenly they shoot out and then it’s like a domino effect.” She hopes “the prize helps me work better or helps me manage that authenticity. Otherwise, when the poem becomes something very rational, it appears when it so wishes, and one doesn’t see it before. I would like to keep that freshness, to feed it. I don’t want to see the poem before it exists”.

Among the poets Reif looks up to are Paula Jiménez España -who helped her edit the book-, Susana Thénon, Alejandra Pizarnik, Idea Vilariño, Marosa de Giorgio… “I read more women than men,” declares the Argentine poet, whose training in Sociology has given her a particular vision of the world. “Women are always portrayed from a more intimate perspective… their thought processes are portrayed to incite poetic discourse and there is an almost immediate need to transform that which is so deep and profound, such as motherhood or the bond with one’s partner. That is something that really speaks to me and that inspires me to write as well.” Thinking on the current moment, she adds: “I hope this prize doesn’t change my understanding of what poetry is, because if there is something that I recognize in Un hogar fuera de mí, is that it came out of something that was very sincere”.

La tarde que me acosté sobre mi mamá,
la tarde que apoyé mi cabeza
sobre su pecho y sentí
sus senos flacos y sus muslos
cansados debajo de las sábanas,
pensé en su torso tendiéndose con desgano
sobre el de mi papá; ella, la mejor gimnasta,
balanceándose una y otra vez
sobre la misma barra, el miembro viril
entre sus raspadas manos.
Mi madre, la gran equilibrista,
capaz de caminar sobre la cuerda floja
y mantenerse en pie.
Yo tenía ocho años ese mediodía
que volví a casa llorando, un chico
del colegio me arrinconó en el pasillo
me agarró fuerte de las muñecas
y besó mis labios.
Cualquier ser es un demonio
si no es una la que decide abrir
Las puertas de su cuerpo.

Luciana Reif
Un hogar fuera de mí, XXX Loewe Foundation Young Poet’s International Award.

Photo Captions: Luciana Reif at the presentation of the XXX LOEWE Foundation International Poetry Award © Álvaro Tomé for Fundación Loewe, 2018.

Ida Vitale, FIL Prize in Romance Languages

Uruguayan poet Ida Vitale has recently been named as the winner of the 28th FIL Prize in Romance Languages awarded by the Guadalajara (Mexico) International Book Fair. “Her clear poetic voice, closely tied to the natural world, artistic expression, and the passage of time, is able to bring new life to tradition and affirm her presence in the modern world”, stated the judging panel in its decision. With poems such as The Light of this Memory, Procurement of the Impossible, Dictionary of Affinities, Constancy’s Dreams and Each in His Own Night, Vitale has become a point of reference in today’s poetic creation and is an integral part of the group of writers known as the Generation of 45.

Ida Vitale was a member of the 27th Loewe Foundation International Poetry Prize jury and was asked to introduce the book Contratono by Colombian poet María Gómez Lara, winner of the Young Poet’s Award. In 2014, Vitale participated in a Loewe Talk together with writer Soledad Puértolas, who is also a member of the Loewe Poetry Prize jury.

Born in Montevideo in 1923 – as the fourth generation of Italian emigrants – Vitale grew up in an intellectual environment that inspired her to study Humanities; a disciple of José Bergamín and a faithful follower of Juan Ramón Jiménez, Vitale crystallized as a poet, essayist, professor and literary critic; no less important are her translations of works by such authors as Luigi Pirandello or Simone de Beauvoir, amongst others. In 1974, fleeing the dictatorship that hit Uruguay, Vitale sought exile in Mexico, where she remained for ten years. She currently lives in the US. A collaborator of numerous newspapers and magazines, her link to Mexico had her serve on the advisory board of Vuelta magazine and be a member of the group that founded newspaper Unomásuno. She has an honorary PhD from the University of Uruguay and some of the many awards she has received throughout her career include the Octavio Paz International Poetry and Essay Prize (2009), Spain’s Queen Sophia of Ibero-American Poetry Award (2015), the Federico García Lorca International Poetry Prize (2016), and the Max Jacob Poetry Prize (2017).

Ida Vitale will accept the FIL Award in Romance Languages next November in Mexico, a few weeks after celebrating her 95th birthday.

Photo Captions: Ida Vitale at the presentation of Contratono, by María Gómez Lara, winner of the 27thLoewe Foundation Young Poet’s Award. Ida Vitale with Sheila Loewe and Soledad Puértolas at the Loewe Gran Vía store © Uxío da Vila, 2014.

Ben Clark: the transcendence of the poem

“I am a bit overwhelmed to see that something as small and personal as a book of poems, can transcend as a result of how far reaching the Prize is”, explains Ben Clark (Ibiza, Spain 1984), winner of the 30th LOEWE Foundation International Poetry Prize for his book of poems La poesía celeste. “I entered the Prize because, although I thought winning was an unlikely outcome, I knew that I would gain readers. It is a book that is very dear to my heart, that took a lot of work and that I wrote with a lot of honesty”, he admits.

Clark explained that he finished La poesía celeste at the beginning of 2017 thanks to a “Valparaíso Foundation grant. I am very grateful to the Mojacar City Hall because this allowed me a brief but intense residency where I was able to wrap up ideas”. He hopes this book of poems “reaches a large number of people. I think it’s a book that can help people who are living experiences that are similar to the ones described in some of the poems; the experience of being a father, whether or not to have children… these are things that I worry about and I know for a fact that my friends and other people who are close to me also worry about them”. It would be truly wonderful, he tells us, “if, in addition to the Prize´s prestige, the book were to have a practical use”.

With regards to the award, Clark believes that “almost everyone would agree that the LOEWE Prize is the pinnacle of a writer’s career; there are awards that are given in recognition of a career path or a lifetime of achievement, but this one is for a specific work”. The LOEWE, he argues “is a summit claim. What’s important now is to recover and to reinvent myself”. That’s where he’s at right now, thinking about writing a book that would converse with Robert Louis Stevenson’s Treasure Island. “I’d really like to recuperate the idea of the classic adventure book and to reinterpret certain elements through a poetic prism in an attempt to create some sort of dialogue with our society”.

Although his first book –Secrets d’una sargantana– was written in Catalan and his parents are British, Ben Clark now rights mostly in Spanish. “For someone, such as myself, who more or less uses classical metres, there are many advantages to writing poetry in Catalan and English, but ever since I moved to Salamanca as a student, I began exploring those literary circles and Spanish is the language that I now use to express myself as a poet; I feel very close to the traditions of that region of Spain, I admire many Latin-American poets, and I think Spanish is a language that has yet to be explored”, he reflects. As to the Prize’s 30 years of existence, he admits that “the poetry and the poets are all very different, something that Luis Antonio de Villena explains in the lengthy prologue of the Mareas del mar anthology”, and a consequence of having “a Jury that is so extraordinary and yet so hard to label, due to the number of members, and the strengths and perspectives they each have. I imagine it must be incredibly difficult for all of them to come to an agreement”, he says laughing. “Nothing would scare me more than to think that the Prize’s winner had been chosen unanimously. The LOEWE prizes should be discussed and defended, and if one is lucky enough to be chosen, it should be a given that some of the Jury members would have voted in favour and some not. And that is a good thing indeed”.

POKER FACE

oh, oh, oh, oh, oh, oh-oh-e-oh-oh-oh
Lady Gaga

Habla con niños que no existirán.
Pasea por la orilla de los ríos cantando
canciones pegadizas de adolescentes yanquis
y luego vuelve a casa, donde escribe poemas
de amor con versos clásicos y nunca
menciona las canciones ni a los niños
intangibles. Escribe sobre cosas amables
y se pregunta, a veces, si acaso lo peor
que te puede pasar
es morir solo.

Ben Clark
La policía celeste, winner of the 30th LOEWE Foundation International Poetry Prize.

Photo Caption: Ben Clark © Álvaro Tomé for the LOEWE Foundation, 2018.