“I am a bit overwhelmed to see that something as small and personal as a book of poems, can transcend as a result of how far reaching the Prize is”, explains Ben Clark (Ibiza, Spain 1984), winner of the 30th LOEWE Foundation International Poetry Prize for his book of poems La poesía celeste. “I entered the Prize because, although I thought winning was an unlikely outcome, I knew that I would gain readers. It is a book that is very dear to my heart, that took a lot of work and that I wrote with a lot of honesty”, he admits.
Clark explained that he finished La poesía celeste at the beginning of 2017 thanks to a “Valparaíso Foundation grant. I am very grateful to the Mojacar City Hall because this allowed me a brief but intense residency where I was able to wrap up ideas”. He hopes this book of poems “reaches a large number of people. I think it’s a book that can help people who are living experiences that are similar to the ones described in some of the poems; the experience of being a father, whether or not to have children… these are things that I worry about and I know for a fact that my friends and other people who are close to me also worry about them”. It would be truly wonderful, he tells us, “if, in addition to the Prize´s prestige, the book were to have a practical use”.
With regards to the award, Clark believes that “almost everyone would agree that the LOEWE Prize is the pinnacle of a writer’s career; there are awards that are given in recognition of a career path or a lifetime of achievement, but this one is for a specific work”. The LOEWE, he argues “is a summit claim. What’s important now is to recover and to reinvent myself”. That’s where he’s at right now, thinking about writing a book that would converse with Robert Louis Stevenson’s Treasure Island. “I’d really like to recuperate the idea of the classic adventure book and to reinterpret certain elements through a poetic prism in an attempt to create some sort of dialogue with our society”.
Although his first book –Secrets d’una sargantana– was written in Catalan and his parents are British, Ben Clark now rights mostly in Spanish. “For someone, such as myself, who more or less uses classical metres, there are many advantages to writing poetry in Catalan and English, but ever since I moved to Salamanca as a student, I began exploring those literary circles and Spanish is the language that I now use to express myself as a poet; I feel very close to the traditions of that region of Spain, I admire many Latin-American poets, and I think Spanish is a language that has yet to be explored”, he reflects. As to the Prize’s 30 years of existence, he admits that “the poetry and the poets are all very different, something that Luis Antonio de Villena explains in the lengthy prologue of the Mareas del mar anthology”, and a consequence of having “a Jury that is so extraordinary and yet so hard to label, due to the number of members, and the strengths and perspectives they each have. I imagine it must be incredibly difficult for all of them to come to an agreement”, he says laughing. “Nothing would scare me more than to think that the Prize’s winner had been chosen unanimously. The LOEWE prizes should be discussed and defended, and if one is lucky enough to be chosen, it should be a given that some of the Jury members would have voted in favour and some not. And that is a good thing indeed”.
oh, oh, oh, oh, oh, oh-oh-e-oh-oh-oh
Habla con niños que no existirán.
Pasea por la orilla de los ríos cantando
canciones pegadizas de adolescentes yanquis
y luego vuelve a casa, donde escribe poemas
de amor con versos clásicos y nunca
menciona las canciones ni a los niños
intangibles. Escribe sobre cosas amables
y se pregunta, a veces, si acaso lo peor
que te puede pasar
es morir solo.
La policía celeste, winner of the 30th LOEWE Foundation International Poetry Prize.
Photo Caption: Ben Clark © Álvaro Tomé for the LOEWE Foundation, 2018.