The best of the year The 10 books of poetry: verses of love, guilt, memory and desire

POETRY IN SPANISH</p>Pre-Texts

The best of the year The 10 books of poetry: verses of love, guilt, memory and desire

POETRY IN SPANISH

Pre-Texts. 56 pages. €12 You can buy it here.

"If the Mediterranean is the cradle of our civilization, it is currently also one of the routes with the most deaths and missing people. Sensitivity towards this is what María Ángeles Pérez López (Valladolid, 1967) sets in motion in this Poetry Prize-winning book Margarita Hierro convened by the José Hierro Foundation," Pilar Martín Gila told us in her review. Pérez López, in her poetry attentive to the human, to the social, opens to us in this book that great cradle converted into this great tomb, where the compassion and guilt of the West stir. "The sea is the language here; drowning in water becomes immersion of language, which is breathing. Thus, the poet presents us with a word that she asks to bring what it keeps inside or what we have thrown at it, such as the tides do, because language is the place where we can drown or the action that can breathe.

Pre-Texts. 100 pages. €17 You can buy it here.

The difficulty of poetry is at the same time its virtue to lose oneself in it with something similar to hope. "Say less or almost not say/ to sing a little more./ Be so small that I can inhabit a crack,/ get lost in a hand." What we were, what we will be, roots, diapers and shroud, as the baroque saw; angel driven by the wind that spreads its wings and turns its head. Bruno Mesa (Santa Cruz de Tenerife, 1975) is the author of the collections of poems The Laboratory, Nadie, The Book of Fabio Montes and Witnesses of the Charge.

Bartleby. 130 pages. €16 You can buy it here.

"Rosana Acquaroni (Madrid, 1964) addresses passionate love as it is given to us: with heartbreak and fatigue on the other side. A love that is reached and a destruction that is fled from," she said in her text Martín Gila. Love, its passionate face and the painful one of its end, thus focuses this beautiful collection of poems that "builds an emotional journey through voices of the present, of evocation, of guilt, voices furrowed by the cerval, which jumps as a carrier of the interior of a self, which occupies an emotional and corporal sense".

Tusquets. 168 pages. €16 Ebook: €7.99 You can buy it here.

"Since at least the publication of Terrestrial Mechanics in 2002, all of Álvaro Valverde's writing (Plasencia, 1959) has been a long journey towards the here and now of reality, of experience," noted Jordi Doce. Strangeness and mystery, exoticism and familiarity, are intertwined in the verses of this book, albums that emerged in the heat of the trip. "The result is a poetry to which we keep returning because it is hospitable; which speaks to us in a confidential tone of that which passes before us and we often do not perceive, real as life itself."

Groceries. 108 pages. €16 You can buy it here.

Play, eclecticism and imagination populate the free and life-filled poetry of Juan Andrés García Román (Granada, 1979). A poetic universe that Twelve judges "of dizzying richness housed in a dome of snow: a reality in miniature, veiled by strange refractions and luminosities, in which each door in turn leads to another reality, as full of mystery as the previous one." ". Verses of minor art that articulate a greater search, which according to the first romantics should impregnate life with poetry.

Summarizing a year of poetic production in the space of this column is an exercise in tightrope walking that is both daring and somewhat ridiculous. One could opt for the middle path - continuity, well - and say that the constants detected last year remain: the overabundance of new releases, the thematic and stylistic variety, the growing importance of small labels, the coexistence between generations that tend to ignore each other... Two notes, however, have been heard above the mute din of our poetic panorama: the great interest and quality of foreign poetry books and the profusion of collected poetry, something perhaps attributable to the pandemic and the authors' desire to put black on white. In the face of an emergency, sooner or later the need to look back becomes apparent.

I have the feeling, undoubtedly unfair, that the level of translated poetry books has generally been higher than that of national production. Having, for example, editions by the Martinique Édouard Glissant (the anthology The salt of the poem, Pre-Textos) and the Breton Eugéne Guillevic (Of the dominion, Cántico) enriches our knowledge of contemporary French poetry, still mistreated in Spain. It has also been the year of two great ladies of letters in English: Kathleen Raine, with her Reunited Poetry (Linteo), and Ursula K. Le Guin, whose anthology In Search of My Elegy (Nordic) has been a true revelation. Without forgetting We Couldn't Be Kind, a broad sample of Bertolt Brecht's lyrics (Galaxia Gutenberg), ViVa, one of the central books of E. E. Cummings (Apollinaire's Tailor), The Friend (Pre-Texts), early flowering of the genius by Marina Tsvietáieva, or the first volume of the complete poetry (Sexto Piso) by the Norwegian Jon Fosse, a recent Nobel Prize winner.

For the rest, 2023 has been rich in large compilation projects. To the collected poems - already discussed here at length - by Juan Barja (Abada, in two volumes), Francisco Ferrer Lerín and Miguel Casado (both in Tusquets), it is worth adding The dream fulfilled, by Eloy Sánchez Rosillo, which brings together poetics, interviews and texts of reflection on a poetry that has always shied away from great theoretical proclamations and has been faithful to its own internal need. As has also been the work of the Sevillian Julia Uceda, whose Complete Poetry has just seen the light in the Vandalia collection of the José Manuel Lara Foundation: here all her writing is brought together from the initial Butterfly in Ashes (1959), with two very high moments in Poemas de Cherry Lane (1968) and Campanas en Sansueña (1977), in which the experience of exile (with one foot in Cernuda) and the female experience are allied in a fluid and reflective writing, which stubbornly questions about the ravages of time and physical distance: "Remembering is not always returning to what has been."

Havoc that is very alive in Act of Presence (Trea), by the Cantabrian Carlos Alcorta, which collects his poetry between 1986 and 2020. If the initial pages are those of a good reader of the Spanish tradition, the bulk of this volume shows the impact of the best American confessional poetry, with its lesson in honesty and integrity, its tendency towards self-analysis and its taste for narrativity and a dense and eloquent form of prosaism that has not ceased to be refined over the years, in books such as Affliction and Balance and Photosynthesis (both from 2020). Equally clear and honest, but visibly kinder, is Francisco Javier Irazoki, who in Los descalzos (Hiperión) brings together all of his poems that he considers valid, in a selection that privileges the principles of courtesy and cordiality that govern his most recent books: Prose poems abound, the remembrance of the world of his childhood in his native Lesaka, the tribute to his idols - musical and literary - and an atmosphere that oscillates between allegorical fable and a slightly autumnal image, without stridency.

Complete Poetry is equally serene. 1999-2022 (Abada) by Extremaduran singer-songwriter Pablo Guerrero. A clean writing, close to nature and its daily wonders, capable of giving life to the most basic realities - stone, trees, "rivers with snow" -. The poetry, in short, of someone who has "spent time and time looking at the stars." For its part, Communion of Saints (Libros de la Resistencia), the first volume of his collected poetry, allows us to approach with guarantees the word, both strict and proliferating, of the Peruvian Roger Santiváñez: quite an event for anyone who wants to be up to date. of the richest and most productive areas of Hispanic poetry. Everything is to continue reading, one more year.

FOREIGN POETRY

Translation by Andrés Catalán. Nordic. 304 pages. €23.95 Ebook: €10.99 You can buy it here.

"Within the constellation of classic science fiction authors, Ursula K. Le Guin (1929-2018) occupies a place apart, not only for the nature of her speculations, but for the quality of her prose, characterized by a rare mix of simplicity, precision and eloquence", Jordi Doce told us. A style that translates into arduous poetic work. Between 1974 and 2011 she published eleven titles of poetry, received by her contemporaries as a whim, the expected pastime of a successful writer. Big mistake. "Poetry is the spring from which the author's universes spring, the very center of her fabulations. We are before a wise and honest poet, of great lyrical strength, capable of dialoguing with mystery without losing her footing or breaking that intimate balance. which was always his goal, his obsession," says our critic. A new way to discover a central author of the 20th century.

Translation by Kings Garcia Burdeus. Pre-Texts. 106 pages. 19 €You can buy it here.

A precocious and unclassifiable poet, a free spirit who refused to constrain her art to any definition, the work of Marina Tsvietaeva (1892-1941), not only poetic, has been gradually translated in our country, revealing the horror of the turbulent 20th century. This collection of poems, however, is from an earlier time, as it brings together the poems that she dedicated between 1914 and 1915 to the writer and critic Sofía Parnok. A drunken cry of passion, lament and disdain to which is added the poem The twilight days of yesteryear, written a year later as a farewell.

Translation by Miguel Casado. Resistance Books. 136 pages. €13 You can buy it here.

"With this intense book Jean-Yves Bériou (Jeumont, 1948) captivates our reading, which advances without rest despite the fragmentary outline of his texts," explained Pilar Martín Gila. There is a flow of textures that maintains throughout the entire book a feeling of vertigo of existence, of rushing through life. "This confusion that the title refers to is the annulment of every attempt at category; or perhaps I can say that the reason for the poetic word is a break in the discourse, which causes a flash to return with the language."

Translation by Jose Luis Gomez Torre. The Gutenberg Galaxy. 816 pages. 33 €You can buy it here.

"Hannah Arendt observed that both in his theater and in his poetry Bertolt Brecht had subverted the epic and lyrical tradition," Andreu Jaume told us in his review of this monumental volume translated and annotated by José Luis Gómez Toré, the bilingual edition on the poetry of Brecht, the most complete and ambitious that has been made in Spain. "In his poetry, Brecht managed to recycle popular genres to give voice to his atrocious century, and he managed to expose the old poets and reveal 'what they did not say, unmask their silence.'"

Translation by Elisa Diaz Castelo. Broken Glass. 160 pages. 22 €You can buy it here.

In this second collection of poems by Ocean Vuong (Vietnam, 1988), highly anticipated after Night Sky with Fire Wounds, we enter a complex world where the feeling of mourning spills out from two sources of pain. "One is the ungenerated, which occurs from the moment death arrives (here that of the mother); and the other, the one that occurs due to cruelty, violence, injustice of men," Martín Gila summarized about a collection of poems in which "experimentation transmits both hope in language and its distrust."