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