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The free poetry of Víctor Rodríguez Núñez

Víctor Rodríguez Nuñez’s most ardent wish is that people read despegue, the book that won him the 28th LOEWE FOUNDATION International Poetry Prize. “That is the ultimate dream,” he admitted.

Víctor, who was born in Cuba, but has lived in the US for several decades, says that “when I lived in Cuba I was just a Cuban poet; now I am a Cuban poet specialising in Cuban poetry.” He admits that he had submitted his work for the LOEWE Prize on numerous occasions because it is “the most prestigious Spanish-speaking award in its category; not the one that pays the most, but the one everyone wants to win,” he explains. “The rigour, the jury, and the roster of winners are impressive. It is an honour to be among them.”

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Laughing, he recognises that “each time I finished writing a book I would send it to LOEWE and only when I found out I hadn’t won would I submit it elsewhere.” That is why he is “so proud to have finally won” and is grateful “to all those who have made it difficult for me, because I am a better poet for it. Struggling benefits all artists.”

This is, without a doubt, a career highlight for Rodríguez Nuñez, but he finds it difficult to define the type of writer he is. “One is not always the same poet; we are constantly changing. What is important is to recognise when the change is taking place. It’s a serious problem when one tries to resist change; it is detrimental to one’s work. Identities don’t actually exist. The only thing that exists is change. One’s identity is linked to the Spanish verb “ser”, ‘Being’ with a capital B, and that state is nothing but an illusion. The verb “estar” is more expressive of one’s present ‘state of being’. The distinction between these two verbs, one that doesn’t exist in other languages, is representative of the richness and nuance of Spanish.”

He is, however, very sure about one of the traits of his poetic personality: his independence. “I don’t belong to any group and I don’t know anybody. I am neither an official nor a dissident Cuban writer. I am an independent writer,” he explains, “and one pays dearly for that. I have been excluded from anthologies and other publications….I don’t have an editor. I have been able to publish my work by submitting entries to different contests and, in the long run, that has given me a lot of confidence because I have won important prizes without knowing anyone.” He explains that “what I write has been well received for its own merit” and “that gives me immense satisfaction,” so “I am very grateful to Spain for the recognition I have received here because it has been an outlet for me.” Without hesitating, he adds, “I have found myself as a poet.”

With regards to the media coverage the Prize has received, he explains, “the announcement was published in all the most important newspapers in Latin America.” So he warns with humour: “if last year there were eight hundred entries, this year there might be a thousand!” And as to his presence as a jury member in next year’s edition, he says, “I will have to do my part to find the winner among that jungle of poems!”

Photo caption: Víctor Rodríguez Núñez in the Prize Ceremony of the 28th LOEWE FOUNDATION International Poetry Prize  © Uxío de Vila for the LOEWE FOUNDATION, 2016.

 

The CND shines with Don Quixote

The premiere of the ballet Don Quixote by the Compañía Nacional de Danza and its Artistic Director, José Carlos Martínez, has become the most awaited dance event. Last time this company performed a full-length ballet it was over twenty years ago. This version of Don Quixote by Martínez has become an absolute recognition of his artistic project. He has been very respectful towards tradition, emphasising the Spanish roots of the piece. The anniversary of the publication of the second part of the novel Don Quixote by Cervantes and the centenary of his death, makes 2016 the perfect year for the CND to present this ballet and to tour it internationally.

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The CND, sponsored by the LOEWE FOUNDATION, has a full repertoire which explores all dance styles and now includes one of the most famous works in Dance History. Don Quixote first premiered in Moscow in 1869 as a ballet inspired by two chapters of the second part of the novel by Cervantes, in which the original choreographer Marius Petipa left a strong Spanish imprint in all the characters.SehYunKim

José Carlos Martínez has built his choreography after that first work by Petipa and Gorsky’s later revision, as well as after the versions he performed during his brilliant career as a dancer. His priority, however, has been to emphasise the Spanish dances beyond what Petipa himself could do in Russia. Martínez plays with the Spanish folklore and underlines the character of our bailes.  He has invited choreographer Mayte Chico to collaborate in his creation in order to achieve in this Don Quixote an authentic flamenco flavour.

Guest dancers Elisa Badenes, Cristina Casa, Joaquín de Luz and Maria Kochetkova are welcomed these days in the cast playing the lead roles alongside the dancers of the CND: Aitor Arrieta, Esteban Berlanga, Moisés Martín, Haruhi Otani, YaeGee Park and Alessandro Riga.

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The performances of Don Quixote will continue throughout the Holidays at the Teatro de la Zarzuela in Madrid, until next January 3rd.

More information: 915 245 400, teatrodelazarzuela.mcu.es and at the box office of the theatre.

Photographs: Corps de Ballet, She Yun Kim with Iván Sánchez and Joaquín de Luz with YaeGee Park in Don Quixote © Jesús Vallinas for CND, 2015.

Goodbye Carlos Bousoño

Back in the spring of 1988, when Enrique Loewe and I were creating the Loewe Foundation International Poetry Award, we thought Carlos Bousoño would be a necessary and crucial member of the jury. Carlos accepted and went on to contribute first in an active and most brilliant manner and then taking on an honorary role – as President– when his deteriorating health prevented him from continuing on. Carlos Bousoño (1923-2015) has been, though sadly silent in the last years of his life, one of the most outstanding poets of the postwar generations – a description he liked to use himself – and an outstanding poetry theorist, upholding the most profound sense of irrationalism and surrealism, that is, that the magic of the irrational can be understood. What Freud believed, though in another field, was not much different. He was the author of award-winning books of such tall order as `Oda en la ceniza´ or `Las monedas contra la losa´, and we also think of him as the genius who wrote `Teoría de la expresión poética´ with its ramifications on irrationalism.…

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Discussing poetry with Carlos, whom I had met fifteen years before, was a veritable pleasure. He was not one for gossip or unnecessary criticism and liked nothing better than agreeing with others if their discourse was convincing. Carlos savoured and discussed the submitted books at length during the jury deliberations and was always clever, clearheaded and reasonable in equal measure. A staunch admirer of Aleixander’s superrealism, for example, he loved lucidity and clarity above all. Like Caillois when he explained Saint-John Perse. That’s how he explained Lorca or Aleixandre or the books that were seemingly more complex and that the jury couldn’t agree on… We’ve missed Carlos for the past few years. Saying goodbye now is easier or harder. He leaves us his immense knowledge, his cordial and open disposition and his need for light, more light, always reasoned and thoughtful. Such a gifted talent, my friend.

Luis Antonio de Villena
Poet. Jury member of the Loewe Foundation International Poetry Prize

Photographs: Enrique Loewe, Luis Antonio de Villena and Carlos Bousoño ©Loewe Foundation 1991

Brooches of Ramón Puig Cuyàs in Barcelona

PuigCuyàs1Jeweler Ramón Puig Cuyàs, accompanied by art critic and historian Daniel Giralt-Miracle, participated in the LOEWE Talk “The human factor in current creation” that took place last week in Loewe Barcelona. This store now houses Ramón Puig´s brooches, fostering a unique opportunity to admire and learn about the work of the Spanish jeweler and his link with the new LOEWE collection.

Ramón Puig explained that from the very beginning he has tried to “make jewelry that would appeal to people who do not like jewelry”. “The value of materials”, so important in this field, is not a priority for him. He believes in modernising jewelry which means “connecting the pieces with their origin, with their symbolism, and avoiding ostentation”. A true artistic “creation is the act of doing it all by yourself, of participating in the whole process”, and “doing things well really makes you happy”.

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The jeweler says that “reviewing the past to build the future is key”. He insisted that “in order to transform something we must be aware of where we come from” and he defended the idea of ​​”recovering old traditions by inserting them in different time frames”.

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That was precisely the goal of Jonathan Anderson in his collection created from these jewels. T-shirts feature abstract prints inspired by the work of Ramón Puig Cuyàs, a perfect metaphor for LOEWE’s creative spirit and philosophy.

Exhibition of brooches by Ramón Puig Cuyàs, throughout October 18 at the LOEWE Store in Paseo de Gracia, 35, Barcelona.

Photographs: Ramón Puig Cuyàs and Daniel Giralt-Miracle, brooch by Puig Cuyàs and T-shirt from the LOEWE Fall Winter Men’s Collection 2015 © Poncho Paradela for LOEWE, 2015.