Category Archives: Poetry

Transatlantic poetry

The arrival of Festival Eñe in Madrid each November becomes an encouraging moment in literary activity every year, both for authors and readers. Poets, publishers, journalists and writing enthusiasts of any age meet at Círculo de Bellas Artes to enjoy two days of inspiration.

Transtlantic poetic communication and incommunication gathered poet Óscar Hahn -Loewe Poetry Prize 2014- and editor Chus Visor, moderated by poet and journalist Antonio Lucas -Loewe Poetry Prize 2013.

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The words of Antonio Lucas highlighted the importance of Visor spreading poetry in Spanish. “There are some communicating links between Spain and Latin America in poetry, although for many years there has been true blindness between these two continents. Chus Visor -Lucas explained- has been essential in raising awareness on the Latin American poets and their work throughout Spain.” “I have published the works of about 200 different poets”, said Visor. Despite his own interest in reading Latin American poetry, Visor could “only find it in magazines; there was no Internet and many authors were not published here. In those days, the literary relations between Spain and Latin America were bad. Only the poets who were diplomats were known here, they were the only ones who could travel.”

Poet Óscar Hahn, meanwhile, explained that he fell into Spanish poetry by chance, when at age 16 and “while a complete ignorant in poetry” -according to his own words- he “run into” a collection of poems of the fifteenth century. “Something clicked inside of me, and I faced themes that later became recurrent in my poetry… like death.” At that time, he avoided translations: “I wanted to see what the authors did with the language, how they used words and constructions”. His friends were reading “translations of poems written by Elliot, Rimbaud, Mallarmé, Cavafis…” and used to tell him that he was reading “poems for old people”. He also felt out of place when he started to write rhymed verses; years later, when Hahn was already living in the United States, he started to read Elliot in English and he realised “that he also wrote rhyming poems!”. The fact of changing his language marked him deeply and suddenly he sharpened his perception “of my own language and the specific Chilean use of it”.

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For Lucas, the poetry that is currently being written in Latin America “is priceless”. He added: “We have a literary debt with them. We have not been generous enough, considering their welcome to the Spanish literary exiles who travelled to Latin America.”

Thoughts about the different ways of communication used by poetry and words linked a magical duet who met for the second time in Eñe: pianist Rosa Torres-Pardo and poet Luis García Montero, who generously read, to the gathered audience, some of his still unpublished poems.

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Photographs: Festival Eñe 2015. Chus Visor, Antonio Lucas and Óscar Hahn. Rosa Torres-Pardo and Luis García Montero © Maira Villela for Eñe, 2015.

The 2015 LOEWE Poetry Prize, again in America

Cuban poet Víctor Rodriguez Núñez (Havana, 1955) has won the 28th LOEWE Foundation International Poetry Prize for his book despegue (take-off). The jury, integrated by Francisco Brines, José Manuel Caballero Bonald, Antonio Colinas, Óscar Hahn, Cristina Peri Rossi, Soledad Puértolas, Jaime Siles, Luis Antonio de Villena, and chaired by Victor Garcia de la Concha, has chosen a book which they found courageous, authentic, and able to link irrationalism with social immediacy. The LOEWE Young Poets Prize has been given to Carla Badillo Coronado from Ecuador (Quito, 1985) for her book El color de la granada (the colour of the pomegranate).

JoséManuelCaballero Bonald,JaimeSiles,SoledadPuértolas,VíctorGarcíadelaConcha,LuisAntoniodeVillena,EnriqueLoewe,JesúsGarcíaSánchez,SheilaLoewe,ÓscarHahn,FranciscoBrines,AntonioColinas-foto Álvaro ToméOn November 11, at the LOEWE Store in Gran Vía in Madrid, and after a few loving words remembering the recently deceased Carlos Bousoño, the names of the winners were made public in a ceremony attended by the members of the Jury and by Enrique and Sheila Loewe, Honorary President and Director of the LOEWE Foundation, respectively.

This year, 30 books have been finalists among the 801 entries submitted from 29 different countries, 27% of them from Latin America. The LOEWE Poetry Prize awards an unpublished work of 300 verses and a Young Poets Prize is given to a poet under 30.

Víctor Rodríguez Núñez

Luis Antonio de Villena began his presentation of the awarded book, despegue, highlighting the importance of Cuba “as one of the most important creation places for the Spanish language”. He explained how the origin of Víctor Rodríguez Núñez -born in Havana and currently living in the United States- has influenced his “criticism towards Cuban reality from an outside point of view” and the “communicative and baroque protest in this book in face of a world that must ‘take-off’. His deep knowledge on poetic tradition allows him to renovate and “to play with the shadow of a sonnet”, in words of Luis Antonio de Villena.

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Poet Antonio Colinas emphasised the “maturity” of Carla Badillo Coronado and her poetry. To him, her verses mean a public defense addressing symbology in a quite complex perspective for her age. The struggle of the pairing life-death and a “subtle skepticism that shakes the reader both forcefully and directly”, creates “a book that makes us feel and think about the limits of life, always with an extraordinary expressive sobriety”.

Next March the members of the Jury will meet the poets at the Prize Ceremony and the presentation of their books, which will be published by Visor publishing house.

Photographs: José Manuel Caballero Bonald, Jaime Siles, Víctor García de la Concha, Soledad Puértolas, Luis Antonio de Villena, Enrique Loewe, Chus Visor, Sheila Loewe, Óscar Hahn, Francisco Brines and Antonio Colinas © Álvaro Tomé for LOEWE Foundation, 2015. Víctor Rodríguez Núñez © Katherine M Hedeen and Carla Badillo Coronado © Mark Álvarez.

Hay Festival in Segovia

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The LOEWE Foundation has returned last weekend to the Hay Festival in Segovia, “Imagine the World”, with reflections and poetry.

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In the Gardens of the Convent of los Padres Carmelitas, within the context of the V Centenary of Teresa de Jesús, there was a special remembrance of the prodigious meeting between her and Juan de la Cruz in the sixteenth century, a historic moment for spirituality and mystic creation. Antonio Colinas, Clara Janés, José María Muñoz Quirós, Luis Alberto de Cuenca and Carlos Aganzo, approached them from their own poetic thought.

Antonio Lucas -winner of the LOEWE Poetry Award- and journalist Jesús Ruiz Mantilla analysed at the Church of San Nicolás, together with the film director and screenwriter Fernando León de Aranoa, his film A perfect day. The emotions and relationship between international voluntary workers living critical and frightening situations -both unreal and dramatic- led their conversation. “I like reality, but not realistic forms”, said the filmmaker. In the movie, a well contaminated by a corpse thrown inside with the evil will to intoxicate the water, brings irrational situations to the protagonists. León de Aranoa wished to reflect in his film a “living and brilliant energy… not melancholic”. Voluntary workers frequently turn to humour to overcome difficult situations. The conversation inevitably led to the situation that currently refugees live. León de Aranoa remembered that unfortunately this is a “recurrent problem in History”. It is necessary to “look for the source of the problem” and not to fall, as Antonio Lucas said, “into a false sense of goodness in the distribution of refugee quotas”.

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In the last talk of the day supported by the LOEWE Foundation, also in the same Church, the journalist Manu Llorente spoke with Luis Antonio de Villena -man of letters and Jury of the LOEWE Poetry Award- about the situation of culture nowadays. Villena laments the current arid situation that has resulted “not from the lack of creation but from the absence of audience.” The poet believes that “only those with the best knowledge should go to university. It is not a place for everyone, only the best people from all economic levels should be able to attend university.” In his opinion, the lack of interest of young people in culture is a consequence of their precarious education and he insisted in culture as a fundamental condition in the formation of individuals. But he warns: “culture is a right for all and, if it is deficient, it will need the support of the government to survive.”

Photographs: Talk at the Gardens of the Convent of los Padres Carmelitas. Antonio Lucas, Fernando León de Aranoa y Jesús Ruiz Mantilla; Luis Antonio de Villena y Manu Llorente at the Church of San Nicolás © Javier Salcedo, 2015.

The voices of Elena Medel and María Gómez Lara

Elena Medel wore black. María Gómez Lara chose a dress full of colours and a big green flower decorated her hair. They both belong to the same generation but their poetic voices are as different as their clothes, perhaps because a full ocean separates these two women. Medel, from Córdoba (Spain), reads her verses with a meticulous voice, full of rhythm, keeping her eyes on the book. Colombian poet Gómez Lara sways on her chair as pouring her strong voice which brings some anxiety to the room and tries to reach the gaze of the audience. Both of them, as different as they may seem, have been awarded with the 26th and 27th LOEWE FOUNDATION International Poetry Award for Young Poets, respectively.

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The LOEWE store at Gran Vía Street, in Madrid, hosted an evening of poetry reading bringing together two different ways of understanding and writing poems. “Poetry as a gaze to the world, not as a literary genre”, explained Medel. Gómez Lara, as soon as she started to read her work, said: “I am very happy that we write so differently and still we can enjoy poetry together”. These two women arose as poets from different referents.

Elena Medel remembered the women who shaped her personality (mother and grandmother) and read some poems she wrote still in her teens –Mi primer bikini– and also, among others, those written after her reflections on death. “My book Tara changed after my grandmother died”, explained Elena as she recited her poems on the multiple faces of love and loss.

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Poets like Emily Dickinson, the many heteronyms of Fernando Pessoa, her many changes of address and other personal experiences came out in the verses of María Gómez Lara. She read an unpublished poem recently inspired by the unpleasant weather of Boston, where she lives now. “I am from the Tropics: cold weather makes me sad”, she said. Years ago, when hurricane Sandy kept her hidden in her bathroom overnight, María wrote a poem titled “Conjuro”, which she also read.

“A poem -said Elena Medel- can be inside a novel, an essay, or a stage play”. Poems go beyond words and reach the readers. For María Gómez Lara, “To know that whatever you write alone has an impact on other people, is very nice”.

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Photographs: Elena Medel and María Gómez Lara with Sheila Loewe © Daniel Mordzinski para FUNDACIÓN LOEWE, 2015.

Pablo García Baena, poet and friend

GarciaBaenaWhen Spanish poet Pablo García Baena (Córdoba, 1921) resigned after 5 years as Jury of the Loewe Foundation International Poetry Award, the Loewe Foundation and his Honourary President, Enrique Loewe, wished to pay tribute to him. This homage to the poet was intended to thank and lavish him, but also to think over his extraordinary work.

Last Tuesday, the Instituto Cervantes in Madrid hosted this celebration of memories, love and admiration where he met friends, colleagues, readers and scholars who revealed the enormity of García Baena’s legacy. Víctor García de la Concha, Enrique Loewe, José Infante, Guillermo Carnero, Luis Antonio de Villena and Joaquín Pérez Azaústre spoke about the unquestionable excellence of his poems; García Baena was awarded with the Prince of Asturias Award in 1984 and the Premio Reina Sofía de Poesía Iberoamericana in 2008. Moreover, his friends and colleagues highlighted García Baena’s extraordinary humanity, his generosity and integrity.

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The words of Víctor García de la Concha -Director of the Instituto Cervantes and President of the Loewe Foundation International Poetry Award – distilled admiration and repect towards García Baena; he rememberd that the poet always provided “the most serene and erudite doctrine” during the deliberation of the Jury, where he was always “the very last one to speak”. The poet José Infante had said before that “the best hommage for a poet is to read his poems”, and so it was. Pablo García Baena, again the last person to raise his voice that evening, read his unpublished poem titled “Las rosas” which will be included in his next book, to be published by Editorial Visor.

That morning, Pablo García Baena had deposited his legacy in La Caja de las Letras housed at the main building of the Instituto Cervantes in Madrid. The contents, that García Baena declined to reveal, include a message for his grandnephews and great-grandnephews: words, the memories of the past and the complicity with the future well preserved inside a Loewe box.

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Photographs: Pablo García Baena. Guest speakers: Joaquín Pérez-Azaústre, Luis Antonio de Villena, Guillermo Carnero and José Infante. La Caja de las Letras at Instituto Cervantes: Guillermo Carnero, José Infante, Joaquín Pérez-Azaústre, Luis Antonio de Villena, Pablo García Baena, Sheila Loewe, Enrique Loewe, Víctor García de la Concha and Carla Fernández-Shaw © Juanjo del Río – Instituto Cervantes, 2015.

María Gómez Lara: poetry playing

Could anyone imagine a better way to celebrate the International Book Day than having a conversation with a poet? María Gómez Lara, whose book Contratono won the 27th Loewe Foundation International Poetry Award for Young Poets shows a big hope and on writing. “I think I cannot realise yet what it means”, says María.

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This young Colombian had just finished her book and had started to look for an appropriate publisher when she heard about the Loewe Award. “I had read about it, but I could not remember that a Young Poets Award category even existed; when I found out, I thought it was just a signal: I had to try.” Her previous book was published three years earlier and she had been working on Contratono for two years, so the young poet felt that “even if I wished to keep working on it, the poetic voice was already there. After organizing the poems over and over, I felt that I had finally found the last piece of the puzzle”.

MGLlecturaContratonoMaría knew very well Elena Medel’s writings, the young poet awarded the previous year, and she admired her work. “I was very interested in her poems and I understood the poetic quality of the young winners of the previous years. That was one of the incentives to participate and I really enjoyed meeting her in person”. Among the books previously awarded, she remembers Los desengaños, by Antonio Lucas: “It is very well written; one can see from afar his poetic craft. I was lucky enough to have him presenting me in the Loewe ceremony”, she says; and Playstation, written by Cristina Peri Rossi: “Only when I was searching about the Loewe Award I found out that her book had won before, but I already had it in my library, among her other books: her poetry touches me”. María Gómez Lara admires the work of Óscar Hahn, the poet awarded together with her. She says it was “a very happy coincidence that we were both honoured the same year”.

She knew and admired all the members of the Jury. “It was just incredible to have the opportunity to have such a prestigious Jury reading my book. By chance, I was carrying one of the books by Ida Vitale in my bag during that Summer I was going to send my manuscript to the Loewe Award. Also by chance, she was a member of the Jury that same year”.

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The young poet hopes to “survive under the academic work that my PhD involves” as she is completing a degree in Harvard University, but she is also thinking about her next new book. María started to work on it while she was still writing Contratono. “I realised that some of my poems belonged to a different universe; I was already writing differently”. Gómez Lara has always shared her life with poetry. “Even before I could write, when I could merely play with words, I liked to repeat little verses making rythms; it was like playing. And poetry became the most serious thing for me. I mean, still a game. The most serious things about life are also sort of a game. Then, I kept on finding in poetry a place to hide, a home, a different logic, a new language; I found this music that moved me, this door towards so many worlds that nuanced the world.”

Photographs: María Gómez Lara © Daniel Mordzinski, 2015. With Antonio Lucas and her book Contratono © Eugenio Da Vila for Fundación Loewe, 2015.

Óscar Hahn, poet

“When I heard Sheila Loewe’s voice on the phone -she was in Spain and I was in Chile- congratulating me for the award, I was silent and quite surprised.”

Thus Óscar Hahn received the news that his book, Los espejos comunicantes, had won the XXVII International Loewe Foundation Poetry Award. The jury’s verdict was announced last November and the award ceremony and official presentation of the book was in March.

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The Chilean writer has a long career in the fields of poetry, essays, and criticism; Mr. Hahn holds a PhD from the University of Maryland (USA) and had taught Latin American Literature at the University of Iowa (USA) for more than 30 years, where he is now Professor Emeritus. His work has been publicly praised from both readers and institutions. Among others, he has received the National Literature Award of Chile and the Pablo Neruda Latin American Poetry Award; in contrast, his book of poems entitled Mal de Amor (1981) was banned from distribution by the military dictatorship in Chile. He is, what they call, a poet.

Mr. Hahn sent the manuscript to Spain last June. That is the reason, he explains, that five months later it was “no longer on my mind”; he was “not expecting” a notification at that point. Therefore, he was very surprised when he received a telephone call from the Loewe Foundation. An award, says the poet, that is “highly valued even in non-literary circles and is internationally regarded”.


HahnFLoeweIt seems amazing, somehow, that a poet like him, with a long and venerable career behind him, would be competing. The writer says that, “two factors came together”. On one hand, he had “just finished the book and therefore it was unpublished” and, on the other hand, he says: “I had just found, in that moment while on the internet, the announcement of the Loewe Award for unpublished books of poems. What a coincidence, huh?”. A happy conjuction that brought together his book Los espejos comunicantes with a Jury whose members he knew “mainly through their work”. The fact of winning an award like this one, says the poet, is that “it always helps readers pay attention not only to the winning book, but also to the other books published by that poet. This is happening to me right now, as I have noticed in my visits to various Spanish universities.”

Óscar Hahn saves warm-hearted thoughts for María Gómez Lara, winner of the XXVII Loewe Poetry Award for Young Creation: “Mary is a simple, sensitive, generous young person, without any affectation; full of girlish charm. And her poems are like her: fine, without verbal fanfare, but very deep”.

The Loewe Foundation Poetry Award goes, for the first time, to two Latin American poets. “The problem is that during the previous twenty-six years, only three among all of the winners were Latin Americans,” says Hahn. For that reason, “for a long time in America we thought that it was a Spanish prize for Spanish poets. This time two Latin American writers won, and it was disseminated worldwide.” The bonds have been increased more than ever and “Latin Americans know now that they can compete.”

Photographs: Óscar Hahn, portrait @ Daniel Mordzinsky. XXVII Loewe Foundation Poetry Award © Uxío da Vila for the Loewe Foundation, 2015.

 

From the other side of the Atlantic

Los ganadores María Gómez Lara y Óscar Hahn

“Loewe dares to honor what is neither trendy nor out of style”. Recognition, gratitude and respect for literature at its finest, distilled the words of Chilean poet Óscar Hahn (Iquique, 1938) as he received his Award.

The XXVII Loewe Foundation International Poetry Award announced the verdict of the Jury last November; months later, having the poems published by Editorial Visor, the winners met with the Jury and a selective group of guests related to literature, fashion, design and all the artistic areas that build the cultural activity of the Loewe Foundation. The Westin Palace Hotel, as every year, hosts the great festival of poetry.

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Hahn’s intervention was a hymn to the courage and perseverance of the Loewe Foundation in supporting poetic creation. He defined poetry as “a higher form of luxury, not meaning sumptuousness, but a unique and intense experience” although it is considered as “the poorest variant of literature; poor in sales but rich in attributes of the human condition”.

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Chilean writer Jorge Edwards presented Los espejos comunicantes by Óscar Hahn in a brilliant speech comparing poetry as a chain bringing distant times and names together; he explained that “prestigious poetry always has some prophetic condition.”

Colombian María Gómez Lara (Bogotá, 1989) received, grateful, the Young Creation Award for her book Contratono, which was presented by Antonio Lucas, previous winner of the Loewe Award. Using lucid words and emphasizing “the powerful voice” found in the verses of the young poet, he said that her work is full of “maturity but also full of surprise”. Moreover, her book shows that “she knows the best tradition of poetry”.

Sheila Loewe -Director of Foundation- and her father Enrique Loewe -President of Honor- embraced the attendees from the podium with the complicity of those who know they are surrounded by friends. They were openly pleased with their completed task.

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Enrique Loewe honestly appreciated the involvement of poet Pablo García Baena, who has decided that this will be his last participation as Jury of the Loewe Award, due to personal reasons.

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Mr. Loewe also publicly showed his support and satisfaction with the new course taken by the Loewe Foundation, now led by her daughter. “Sheila and her team,” he said, “bring me serenity”.

This is the first time that the two Loewe Poetry Awards go to Latin American poets. The Loewe Foundation, satisfied by the strong ties that our common language provided, celebrates the arrival of two beautiful books of poems from across the Atlantic.

Poetry, once again, has demonstrated its ability to build bridges when genuine, calm and unprejudiced voice is risen.

Photographs: María Gómez Lara and Óscar Hahn; Ó. Hahn recives his Award with Jorge Edwards; M. Gómez Lara and Antonio Lucas; Sheila Loewe, J. Edwards, Ó. Hahn, M. Gómez Lara, A. Lucas and Enrique Loewe; E. Loewe with Modesto Lomba © Fundación Loewe, 2015.

Awarded poetry

Welcome to the blog of the Loewe Foundation. We are happy to announce that our blog starts a full section for our English-speaking friends and colleagues. Here you will find information about our projects on poetry, dance, photography, architecture and design.

This post is dedicated to the Loewe Foundation International Poetry Award.
Since 1987, this Award has been reaching the best quality in poetic work written in Spanish worldwide. The verdict of the Loewe Poetry Award is announced every year in November by the Jury, and the winning books are officially presented next March.

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Veteran poet Óscar Hahn (Iquique, Chile, 1938) is the winner of the XXVII Loewe Foundation International Poetry Award. His book –Los espejos comunicantes– brings two voices together, like a two-faced gaze. His poems show an intimate and retrospective thought, but also the idea of quotidianity that becomes tumultuous sometimes.

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The Young Poets Award was given to María Gómez Lara (Bogotá, Colombia, 1989) and her book Contratono. The Jury -chaired by Víctor García de la Concha and integrated by Francisco Brines, José Manuel Caballero Bonald, Antonio Colinas, Pablo García Baena, Antonio Lucas, Soledad Puértolas, Jaime Siles, Luis Antonio de Villena and Ida Vitale- emphasized her “fresh and undeniable poetry, warning of her as a promising poet”.

Among the 845 participating books, 39 were finalists from 32 different countries. More than two hundreds manuscripts were sent from America, filling our record book as never before. The Loewe Foundation International Poetry Award has been convened since 1987 to “encourage the quality of poetry written in Spanish”. The Jury rewards an unpublished book over 300 verses and concedes a Young Poets Award to a poet under 30 years old. Colección Visor de Poesía will publish both books.

IdaVitale2014As every year, the Awards Ceremony and the books presentation will be held next March, in Madrid. The 13th of November, Sheila Loewe -Director of the Loewe Foundation- welcomed both Jury and media as Víctor García de la Concha read the proceedings and verdict of the Jury.

Finally, poet Ida Vitale presented María Gómez Lara’s Contratono and Luis Antonio de Villena introduced Los espejos comunicantes, the awarded book by Óscar Hahn. The reading of selected verses from both books revealed, once again, the magic and uniqueness inherent in exquisite poetry.

Photographs. The Jury: Soledad Puértolas, Pablo García Baena, Antonio Colinas, Víctor García de la Concha, Enrique Loewe, Ida Vitale. Luis Antonio de Villena, José Manuel Caballero Bonald, Jaime Siles, Francisco Brines, Jesús García Sánchez (Chus Visor), Sheila Loewe and Antonio Lucas. Luis Antonio de Villena presents Los espejos comunicantes, by Óscar Hahn. Ida Vitale presents Contratono, by María Gómez Lara © Uxío da Vila for Loewe Fondation, 2014.