Elena Medel wore black. María Gómez Lara chose a dress full of colours and a big green flower decorated her hair. They both belong to the same generation but their poetic voices are as different as their clothes, perhaps because a full ocean separates these two women. Medel, from Córdoba (Spain), reads her verses with a meticulous voice, full of rhythm, keeping her eyes on the book. Colombian poet Gómez Lara sways on her chair as pouring her strong voice which brings some anxiety to the room and tries to reach the gaze of the audience. Both of them, as different as they may seem, have been awarded with the 26th and 27th LOEWE FOUNDATION International Poetry Award for Young Poets, respectively.
The LOEWE store at Gran Vía Street, in Madrid, hosted an evening of poetry reading bringing together two different ways of understanding and writing poems. “Poetry as a gaze to the world, not as a literary genre”, explained Medel. Gómez Lara, as soon as she started to read her work, said: “I am very happy that we write so differently and still we can enjoy poetry together”. These two women arose as poets from different referents.
Elena Medel remembered the women who shaped her personality (mother and grandmother) and read some poems she wrote still in her teens –Mi primer bikini– and also, among others, those written after her reflections on death. “My book Tara changed after my grandmother died”, explained Elena as she recited her poems on the multiple faces of love and loss.
Poets like Emily Dickinson, the many heteronyms of Fernando Pessoa, her many changes of address and other personal experiences came out in the verses of María Gómez Lara. She read an unpublished poem recently inspired by the unpleasant weather of Boston, where she lives now. “I am from the Tropics: cold weather makes me sad”, she said. Years ago, when hurricane Sandy kept her hidden in her bathroom overnight, María wrote a poem titled “Conjuro”, which she also read.
“A poem -said Elena Medel- can be inside a novel, an essay, or a stage play”. Poems go beyond words and reach the readers. For María Gómez Lara, “To know that whatever you write alone has an impact on other people, is very nice”.
Photographs: Elena Medel and María Gómez Lara with Sheila Loewe © Daniel Mordzinski para FUNDACIÓN LOEWE, 2015.