“During these days of literary hustle and bustle, I have asked myself if people are really still interested in poetry and its true substance,” wonders José Ramón Ripoll (Cádiz, 1952), who recently won the 29th LOEWE FOUNDATION International Poetry Prize. The poet went on to explain that his book, La lengua de los otros, “is an attempt at hearing in a vacuum, at listening to the echo of those words which emerge outside of the realms of space and time, a music that shapes us before we are born, before the possibility of existing is even possible.”
This trip has led him, as he himself explains, to “use different syntactic resources and a music that is not part of my usual discourse. The result is a stylistic consequence of everything I write, although, in this book, I believe I use a more naked language, perhaps because I delve deeper into that vacuum I was referring to before and I try to listen the echo of a primitive word which, paradoxically, emerges out of nowhere.”
Ripoll, who is a writer, a musicologist and a journalist, also directs, from the time it was founded, the poetry magazine RevistAtlántica. The experience he has gained has taught him that “each poem is different and shines in its own right, regardless of theme or style, generation or origin. And, from the outset, the LOEWE prize, inits two categories, has been showcasing just that,
allowing us to discover young and previously unknown poets, and recognising books of poems written by established Spanish or Latin-American authors.” Among the jury members, he identifies most with Caballero Bonald and has even said that his own voice depends upon Bonald’s. “As I read his latest pieces, each increasingly surprising, I am more convinced of this fact,” he declares.
Ripoll, who’s in love with language, sound and memory, reflects upon the present and says that “there is a tendency towards wanting to make language more uniform, towards stripping it of its natural beauty, its depth, its evocative and metaphoric capacity. This leads to a growing vulgarisation and ultimately results in the manipulation of thoughts, and therefore, of the individual. For this reason, when people show up at a poetry reading or show interest in a recently published book, hope shines through, and I begin to think that this prize is worth it and goes beyond satisfying the winner’s personal interests and aspirations.”
PIctures: José Ramón Ripoll © Álvaro Tomé for LOEWE FOUNDATION, 2017.