Category Archives: Poetry

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 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.

POESÍA eres tú

The 30th Loewe Foundation International Poetry Prize celebrations continue on with the literary arts as the main protagonist. On the occasion of the three decades since the creation of the Prize, this past 21st March, on International Poetry Day, the documentary Poesía eres tú – a Dadá Films & Entertainment production that was directed by Charlie Arnaiz and Alberto Ortega, and that can streamed on LOEWE’s website– was presented. The previous evening, Madrid’s historic Cine Doré hosted a first viewing of the documentary, followed by a short poetry reading by Ben Clark and Luciana Reif, winners of Prize’s latest edition.

In just over a half hour, POESÍA eres tú features the members of the jury and the outstanding list of historic LOEWE Prize winners, with their individual and distinct literary and aesthetic sensibilities. We also see poets from both sides of the Atlantic as well as young talents who represent today’s most contemporary poetry and who are taking off from new literary platforms, thus offering a diverse and contemporary perspective of Spanish poetry, shown here as a literary genre in constant evolution.

The voices of Enrique Loewe Lynch –Honorary President of the Foundation–, Sheila Loewe –President of the Foundation–, publisher Chus Visor, and of other literary figures who had enormous influence over Spanish Poetry in general and over the LOEWE Prize in particular –Víctor García de la Concha, Piedad Bonnett, José Manuel Caballero Bonald or Jaime Siles, among others– build an eloquent multitalented crucible around a literary genre –poetry- that the LOEWE Foundation took an interest in over three decades ago, and which is still one of the most celebrated within the fields of culture and literary arts.

Also, to mark the LOEWE Prize anniversary, poet and Jury member Luis Antonio de Villena has curated an anthology of poems from the Prize’s thirty winning books, published by Visor under the title of Mareas del mar. In the book’s prologue, “XXX años del Premio LOEWE: Modernidad, tradición y avance”, Villena has also included a number of anecdotes and memories from the Prize’s three decades as well as interesting details of each of the winners. The volume’s front cover shows The Great Wave Off Kanagawa, by Katsushika Hokusai: a metaphor for the diversity of the sea’s waves that, like the LOEWE Prize, reach the shore periodically.

Click here to see the documentary POESÍA eres tú.

Photo Captions: Viewing of Poesía eres tú at Cine Doré © Alvaro Tomé for the LOEWE FOUNDATION, 2018. Front cover of Mareas del mar © Editorial Visor, 2018. Image: The Great Wave Off Kanagawa, by Katsushika Hokusai.

LOEWE celebrate three decades of poetry

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.

Ben Clark and Luciana Reif, winners of the 30th LOEWE FOUNDATION International Poetry Prize

La policía celeste, by Ben Clark (Ibiza, Spain, 1984), has been awarded the 30th LOEWE FOUNDATION International Poetry Prize. The jury, presided by Víctor García de la Concha and made up of members Piedad Bonnett, Francisco Brines, José Manuel Caballero Bonald, Antonio Colinas, Soledad Puértolas, José Ramón Ripoll, Jaime Siles and Luis Antonio de Villena, highlighted the simplicity and transparency of the book; a book of poems that the jury considered to be “full of anecdotes; and not black and white anecdotes, but rather, ones that the author transcends and enriches”. On the other hand, Un hogar fuera de mí by Luciana Reif (Buenos Aires, Argentina, 1990) won the Young Poets Prize for authors under 30 years of age; the Jury has underscored the book’s feminine view of reality, which broaches a wide range of themes including “militant feminism and the criticism of social sexism.” Moreover, it has underlined the “enquiring and fresh Argentinian colloquialism” it incorporates.

During the press conference that took place on 31st October in Madrid’s Gran Vía LOEWE store, Sheila Loewe, President of the LOEWE FOUNDATION, offered all attendees a warm welcome and remembered the path the Prize has travelled. Víctor García de la Concha read the minutes of the Jury’s decision after, after evoking the three decades of history that the Prize now has, and highlighting the importance and relevance of each of the 30 winning books.

Luis Antonio de Villena, who presented Un hogar fuera de mí, described it as a “simple yet complex” book of poems and praised the voice of the Argentinian who defends “her condition as a free woman without making it a war cry”. Using a “colloquial but polished language”, Un hogar fuera de mí has what Villena calls a “measured style” featuring a very structured colloquial approach that is not based on the simple repetition of current forms, but rather achieves “the language of art”.

HOMBRES COMO MI PADRE

Hombres como mi padre,
mi abuelo,
mis novios,
mis hermanos,
vi sus cabezas llenas de grandes ideas
como un plato de comida que rebalsa,
lustré desde chica esos cráneos,
soy el placebo de tranquilidad
con el que después brillan fuera de casa.

¿Para eso caí en este mundo?

Luciana Reif
LOEWE Young Poets Prize 2017
Un hogar fuera de mí

When it came time for poet Jaime Siles to present the winning book –La policía celeste– he did so rather shyly because “it’s a very intimate book. It’s a book about love, about a love that is fundamentally filial”. Siles praised the hidden allusions to Virgil’s Aeneid, to existentialism, to Vallejo, and to astronomers, as well as the musical references and the books avoidance of historicity despite the fact that is clearly set within a specific timeframe. He pointed out that Clark’s book is “very well constructed from a rhythmic-syntactic point of view and manages enjambments beautifully”. A book written “from within” and, in sum, “guided by its love for poetry”. Siles explained that La policía celeste “is rhythmically perfect because the rhythm that brings it together and articulates it is not metric rhythm, but rather the rhythm of emotions, of consciousness, of the heart”.

CAFÉ MACHADO

En cada error existe una verdad.
El corazón enfermo de mi padre
no debe estimularse con café.
Pero no se resigna.
Su vida nunca fue descafeinada
ni sin alcohol. Un poco es algo,
dice, y por eso pide
siempre café Machado. Es manchado,
corrijo. Un café manchado, dice.
Y de pronto me siento un asesino.

Ben Clark
LOEWE Prize 2017
La policía celeste

The LOEWE FOUNDATION International Poetry Prize, which is awarded annually, aims to promote poetic creativity and creation in Spanish. The main prize is awarded to a previously unpublished book of poems of at least 300 verses and the Young Poets Prize to an author under the age of 30 if the winner of the main prize is older than that. The winning books are also published by Colección Visor de Poesía. This year’s edition had 29 finalists chosen among the 706 manuscripts that were sent from more than 32 countries. A total of 19% of entries from Latin-American countries, with the largest number hailing from Mexico, Argentina and Colombia, while Madrid, Valencia, Barcelona, and Seville were at the top of the list of provinces for Spanish entries.

The presentation of the books and the award ceremony will take place in March of 2018.

Photos: Luis Antonio de Villena, Víctor García de la Concha, Jaime Siles and Sheila Loewe © Álvaro Tomé for the LOEWE Foundation, 2017. Luciana Reif. Ben Clark © Vicent Marí. Antonio Colinas, Jaime Siles, Chus Visor, Sheila Loewe, Enrique Loewe, Soledad Puértolas, José Ramón Ripoll, José Manuel Caballero Bonald, Luis Antonio de Villena, Piedad Bonnett, Víctor García de la Concha and Francisco Brines © Álvaro Tomé for the LOEWE Foundation, 2017

Sergio García Zamora, condemned to be talented

“I was in my home town, a place called Esperanza, which in English means Hope. I was at my mom’s and I had just finished reading her a poem; a poem I had dedicated to her, or rather to her solitude; a poem that is included in El frío de vivir. And then they called. I laughed and she cried. Then we had coffee. My mom forgot to add sugar, but I found it sweet. Everything became alarmingly sweet.”

That is how poet Sergio García Zamora remembers the moment he found out that his book of poems El frío de vivir had won the 29th edition of the LOEWE FOUNDATION Young Poets Award.

Born in Cuba in 1986, García Zamora has a B.A. in Spanish language, has published over a dozen books, and has received numerous prizes, including the Rubén Darío International Poetry Prize and the Gaceta de Cuba Prize. “I submitted my application because the LOEWE Poetry Prize has everything: a prestige that its organisers have never betrayed; a very generous prize disbursement (even the Cid Campeador needed money); beautiful books; an unquestionable jury that has allowed us to believe in literary justice once again. An honourable prize, even if not everyone remembers the value of that adjective.” He explains that his relationship with the jury is distant. “The truth is, I only know them because I’ve read their books, which are magnificent. It’s like having siblings you haven’t met. I have lived without ever hearing them speak; but every day I rehearse possible conversations because I trust that one day we will sit at the same table.”

A Jury that highlighted, among other qualities, the expressive resources of a book that even its own author describes using a competitive metaphor: “If I were a chess player (what author isn’t one), I would declare El frío de vivir the first move of the middle game, when one cannot afford to make the mistakes of the opening rounds, call them my previous books, if we are to beat eternity at its game.”

García Zamora says this prize has changed his life “in an enchantingly horrible way: it has condemned me to be talented. I had hoped to live out my days as a poet, as a simple shepherd; however, the time to kill giants has arrived.”

Photo captions: Sergio García Zamora at the award ceremony of the LOEWE FOUNDATION International Poetry Prize in its 29th edition ©Álvaro Tomé for the LOEWE FOUNDATION, 2016.