Category Archives: Poetry

The 33rd LOEWE Prize celebrates poetry once again

La fragilidad and Peachtree City, the winning books of the 33rd LOEWE FOUNDATION International Poetry Prize – published by Visor Editorial – were officially presented on 16th June. Following an extended period of time during which the pandemic prevented the celebration of these types of events, poetry took center stage at the Westin Palace Hotel in Madrid, bringing together friends, collaborators, personalities from the worlds of art and culture…as well as most Jury members and, needless to say, the Poetry Prize winners.

Last year was the first time two female poets won first prize, and also the first time since its inception 32 years ago that the award ceremony was cancelled. As such, this year’s celebration played host to last year’s winners, Aurora Luque (winner of the LOEWE Prize) and Raquel Vázquez (winner of the Young Poet’s Award), who were honored together with this year’s awardees. During the presentation, Sheila Loewe, President of the Foundation, reminded the audience how “we had to cancel last year’s award ceremony at the very last minute. This time, nothing will prevent us from celebrating poetry together”.  Raquel Vázquez read “Un lugar” from her book Aunque los Mapas, and Aurora Luque read “Gavieras”, also the title of the winning book.

 

Enrique Loewe, Honorary President of the Foundation, celebrated the continuity of the LOEWE Prize adding how poetry “has perfected me as a human being and as a connoisseur of a world as deep and full of nuances and surprises as is the world of poetry”. In remembrance of Francisco Brines and Caballero Bonald he added, “Today I am moved by this solitude, by what I learned from them, and by how they helped us keep going for so long”, he concluded.

Elena Medel, winner of the 2013 Young Poets Award, presented Peachtree City. “I recommend you read Mario’s book without thinking about his age. Of course it’s remarkable that he is only 17 and that he wrote it when he was 16, but it seems rather unfair to reduce such intelligent, generous, and brilliant writing to a number. It is an exceptional book,” she said during the presentation. A book that, in her words, “is about poetry’s identity and personal value, and its ability to forge who we are. Mario’s poetry is a lifeline allowing us to face the world”. Mario Obrero celebrated the fact that attendees “made time for poetry” in their schedules and also thanked the LOEWE Foundation and Elena Medel. According to the poet, Peachtree City is the expression of “poetry as a place we all have in common where empathy exists, allowing us to poetically identify with others on the basis of hope, solidarity and a deep awareness linked to beauty and memory”. During his speech, Mario Obrero pointed out that “adhering to poetic logic could be one of poetry’s natural roles. Poetic logic is neither the logic of reality, nor the logic of what happens in our day to day, nor the logic that guides the dominant discourses that wear us down. That said, he does not believe that poetic logic is “less honest, less legitimate, or less licit; on the contrary, there are moments during which it is aware of what happens in the shadows, of things that, our everyday reality, in its clumsiness, is unable to perceive”.

Playwright Alberto Conejero presented Diego Doncel’s La fragilidad at this gathering held on “the occasion of poetry”. The “raison d’être” of the winning book, said Conejero, “is orphanhood and the days and nights leading up to it”. It is a work “with two protagonists: the father who dies, and the orphan, who is born. The scattered tesserae of two disintegrated men ¾one as a result of life, the other of death¾ who make up the refined mosaic of this work”. This collection of poems, Conejero added, “is a journey that takes place after the father’s death, yet moves in the direction of the father himself. It is at once voyage and shipwreck; tempest and safe haven”. Diego Doncel pointed to “that rare feeling one experiences when living life with intensity”, one that exists in concentrated fashion when creating poetry, but also when reading it, a homage to the books that have been published over the past 32 years thanks to the LOEWE Prize. “I hope that this book, which was born from feeling raw and exposed, and also from a place of truth, has touched a large number of people, and that they have felt accompanied by it,” he added. “I think poetry’s fundamental role”, he continued, “is to portray life’s intensity; that these few humble words ¾which have required centuries of civilization and, which, in my opinion, is one of the greatest achievements of the human mind¾ are capable of making us relive certain experiences. Poetry is not poetry if it doesn’t move you, even if only linguistically”. His book, he said, “is an attempt at showing that personal struggle is life’s greatest dignity. This is the diary of a struggle”.

The following day, free of spring showers and in a seeming continuum of the previous day’s events, Diego Doncel and Mario Obrero were invited to read at the Royal Botanical Gardens in Madrid. Obrero spoke of how his stay at Peachtree City elicited a “longing for the Spanish “ñ” and the “accents on words” and Doncel reflected on “the fragility of what is important”. In this garden, the poets managed to temporarily pause the hustle and bustle of the city as they shed light on the fundamentals of the poetic process.

Photo Captions: Presentation of the 33rd LOEWE FOUNDATION International Poetry Prize and poetry reading at the Royal Botanical Gardens in Madrid.

The future of Poetry

The LOEWE FOUNDATION has signed a partnership with the Antonio Gala Foundation resulting in a promising joint undertaking by two entities dedicated to the advancement of Spanish poetic creation. The recently signed agreement establishes the terms of a collaborative endeavour seeking to promote poetry and support young poets.

Thanks to this initiative, the presentation of the next LOEWE FOUNDATION International Poetry Prize winners will take place at the Antonio Gala Foundation headquarters in Córdoba, Spain. In addition, the Antonio Gala Foundation may grant one of its annual residency scholarships to the recipient of the LOEWE Young Poet’s Award. Through this international residency programme, the Antonio Gala Foundation houses eighteen young artists between the ages of eighteen and thirty at the Foundation’s headquarters from October to May, with breaks during the Christmas and Easter holidays.

This full academic-year residency allows participants to fully immerse themselves in their music, literature, visual art or plastic art projects, whilst interacting with artists whose specialty may lie in other disciplines, all in an open and highly productive environment. Javier Vela and Raquel Vázquez are two LOEWE Young Poet’s Award recipients who earned one of these residency scholarships in the past. In addition to enjoying an ideal setting to hone their creativity and do research work, participants are supervised by Antonio Gala Foundation tutors. Ben Clark, also a winner of the LOEWE Young Poet’s Award, is one of those tutors, a fact that helps strengthen the bonds between older and younger generations of Spanish-speaking poets.

The LOEWE FOUNDATION, which launched the International Poetry Prize in 1988 to promote and give greater visibility to poetic creation, is once again standing behind this literary discipline. Representatives from the LOEWE and Antonio Gala Foundations will meet to analyse the progress of Spanish poetry and jointly promote projects that benefit its creation and dissemination.

Photo Caption: Antonio Gala, at the entrance of the Foundation that has been named after him. The Antonio Gala Foundation headquarters in Córdoba, Spain. Courtesy of the Antonio Gala Foundation.

Raquel Vázquez, the dream of dreaming

Raquel Vázquez (Lugo, Spain, 1990) tells us how surprised she was when she learned she’d won the LOEWE Young Poet’s Award. “A few hours prior to receiving the phone call, I thought fleetingly about the Prize; about how much I wanted to win, yet how unlikely that possibility seemed,” she recalls. She had sent her submission encouraged by the make-up of the jury and the prestige held by both Editorial Visor and the LOEWE Foundation, but she confesses that she could have never imagined “the Prize’s enormous impact and the subsequent warm reception the book received.” She is “beyond grateful.”

Aunque los mapas —the award-winning book, which has also won the Radio Nacional de España Ojo Crítico Prize— hides much of Vazquez herself. The poet explains that writers “need to feed on memories, dreams, experiences, conversations, readings…. The words we write don’t necessarily have to tell a true story, not by a long shot, but we must always begin with our own experiences.” In order to convey truth and honesty, she adds, “the starting point is crucial because it’s what the reader will perceive; meanwhile, the amount of truth versus fiction is actually completely anecdotal.” She admits that in Aunque los mapas “there is a direct link between the personal journey that I have been on in recent years —one of reflection, disagreements, disappointments, and search— and the one the book recounts.”

Vazquez is still moved by the reaction of certain Jury members to her book: “For Gioconda Belli to highlight the way I close my poems or that my poetry is accessible yet refined is amazing. These are aspects I tend to focus on so it’s extremely gratifying when such an accomplished poet notices them,” she tells us.

La policía celeste, written by someone she “appreciates and admires” as much as Ben Clark, is the book she would choose from among previous winners as the one closest to her writing style. She also mentioned He heredado un nogal sobre la tumba de los reyes by Basilio Sánchez and Juan Antonio González Iglesias, Margo Glantz and Belli herself as the poets “who have left the biggest impression on me.”

Raquel Vázquez is already working on a new collection of poems. “There is some common ground with Aunque los mapas. Spaces, for example, still play an important role. But, as always, I try to go a step further: in the research and in the possibilities of language, both in form and in substance”. Vázquez, who likes to alternate between poetry and narrative, is working on a book of short stories and planning to get back to a novel she started writing some time ago: “I think the time has come to dive in and finish it.”

Sharing the limelight of the Prize’s 32nd edition with another woman —Aurora Luque from Almería— is nothing out of the ordinary. For Vázquez “what is significant is that it took thirty-two editions for both winners to be women. Or that, to date, only two women have won the main prize: Cristina Peri Rossi and Aurora Luque.” And, as if thinking out loud, she adds: “The current poetic scene in Spanish is extremely diverse and rich, with both men and women standing out equally. Here’s hoping that the Prize will continue reflecting the quality of poetry that is being written.”

CÁRDENO

No siempre fue el futuro ese animal magullado.
¿Cuándo perdió las alas y la risa?
¡Cuándo se marchitó su ladrido de aliento?

Pesa la herida más que la esperanza.
Y no basta la espera.
Pero tal vez sí el bálsamo
de balbucir una palabra indemne.

Aunque en este desierto cueste tanto decirla.
Aunque las referencias hayan quedado atrás.

El sueño de soñar algún día lo ileso.

Por si las jacarandas
irrumpen como puntos cardinales.

Por si la vida todavía fuera
ese árbol triste en que lucha una flor.

Raquel Vázquez
LOEWE Young Poets Award 2019
Aunque los mapas

Photo captions: Raquel Vazquez © Eduardo Fraile. Aunque los mapas, Colección Visor de Poesía.

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.