Tag Archives: He heredado un nogal sobre la tumba de los reyes

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.