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.
LOEWE Prize 2019
Poem Translation by Orlando Ocampo
Photo Caption: LOEWE FOUNDATION International Poetry Prize © FUNDACIÓN LOEWE, 2019.