Caracas, 20 de marzo de 1929 / José Antonio Ramos Sucre

Caracas, March 20th, 1929*

Mr. Lorenzo Ramos, agent of Banco de Venezuela, Maracay

     Thank you very much for the kind telegram from you and Blanca. Some concerns have assaulted me this unfortunate year. But my patience is superhuman. I insist on the nobility of patience, origin of our affective virtues. Patience is courage in adversity and urbanity with our fellow humans. No one tries to find out our merits, but instead people want to see if we’re sociable and tolerant. In our home that fertile quality was almost always prohibited and plebeian irascibility rose to be considered an energy.
     I’m spending lots of money. In order to get some sleep, I’ve found myself having to rent the apartment contiguous to mine, much more spacious and better furnished. This way I avoid the danger of it being inhabited by two people at the same time, which would lead to conversations at night and my own annoyance. So I have occupied, then, the contiguous apartment.
     This is my reason for delaying gifts for my gracious nieces. I need to wait for the balance first. I hope to count on the benevolence of such exquisite girls.
     Be very careful with my previous letter, where I point out pitiful habits [...]. The list of illnesses and tragedies can afflict and depress. St. Thomas Aquinas has already pointed to the ravages of sadness and fear on man’s body.
     Well, dear Lorenzo, take care of yourself and be circumspect.

     Give your condolences to Doña Carmelita Martínez de Sucre for the death of Antonio, your subaltern in Bolívar. I don’t believe in any resentment on your part towards that family. Don’t listen to intrigues.

* “Typewritten letter. Blanca González Pregal was Lorenzo’s wife and their daughters are: Gladys, Isabel Cecilia —Ramos Sucre’s goddaughter— and Luisa Elena. Antonio Sucre Martínez was a second cousin. The previous letter the author alludes to hasn’t been published.” (Alba Rosa Hernández Bossio)

{ José Antonio Ramos Sucre, Obra poética, Edición crítica de Alba Rosa Hernández Bossio, Madrid: Colección Archivos, 2001 }


Lanza tu poesía / Ludovico Silva

Throw Your Poetry

Throw your poetry like an energetic dagger at
     reality; you’ll see how reality sends it back to you
     with even more strength

Don’t get drunk to know reality; it’s
     already drunk. It’s up to you to stay lucid.

The pure love of words doesn’t last forever;
there comes a moment when things impose themselves.

28 October 1968

{ Ludovico Silva, Cuaderno de la noche, Caracas: Editorial Arte, 1979 }


El miedo a la conciencia / Ludovico Silva

The Fear of Consciousness

The fear of consciousness
is the fear of my own being.
I’m scared of you, clarity that acts
beacon in the depths of my bones.

I fear you, precious stone
that nourishes and radiates in my head.
Ah, lucidity of lime, snows rays
murderous whiteness.
I want to return to the night of nights,
to that Genesiacal tranquility
where being moved like an unconscious mass
developing in the dark.
Where did this light of my being come from?
Who wanted to stamp it on my forehead
with the sign of suffering?
I have loved you, light,
but I can’t use you anymore in time;
I would need a total light, without a body,
arrived from the blood, but flying towards the cosmos.
Too much consciousness for such a small being!

{ Ludovico Silva, Cuaderno de la noche, Caracas: Editorial Arte, 1979 }


Fijos en el tormento / Ludovico Silva

Fixed in Torment

I can feel evil, the tenderness of evil
the softness of the abyss
hatred’s compassionate glance
rancor’s attractive profile
the purest impurity.

I hear the sulphur singing in the tunnels
and the creaking of regret.
I see sins suffering for being sins
yet they enjoy the punishment so much.
The angel becomes more alive for me again
when he was falling toward our time.

And after all, aren’t there two spaces?
Isn’t there one that’s alive and another one dead?
There’s one that’s alive and I can feel it nearby,
the infernal space.
It’s evil what is ours;
good is nothing more than good angels.
There is nothing but men, evil men
like me, in love with their evil
alive in their misery and in their miserable love
fixed in torment.

8 November 1968

{ Ludovico Silva, Cuaderno de la noche, Caracas: Editorial Arte, 1979 }


Mis Beatrices / Ludovico Silva

My Beatrices

An expert and wise friend of mine says
that all women are called Beatrice:
Is this eye of dusk real?

Ancient and deep, my friend also says
that Dante forgot
about the Beatrices of hell.

She’s the one I want,
the one with my inferno on her back.

Priestly, immense,
she holds the white chalice in her hands
she puts it to my lips
and everything dissolves in flames.

21 October 1978

{ Ludovico Silva, Cuaderno de la noche, Caracas: Editorial Arte, 1979 }


Con los otros / Ludovico Silva

With the Others

The beaches at night
are an orchestra in the dark,
they fall like fragments,
spears that infringe upon
cemeteries of quartz.

In my solitude, sounds
golden letter in the gloom.

18 October 1978

{ Ludovico Silva, Cuaderno de la noche, Caracas: Editorial Arte, 1979 }


Introito / Ludovico Silva


Herein lie the scarce living remains of a long shipwreck.
After ten years of continuous and golden death, all I have
left to say is: I have a corner, a little corner where
I can breathe, I once more believe in poetry, or she
believes in me again! It’s hard to shout in the dark so
the words flee our mouths like luminous stones.
Writing before death is the only thing that a poet
can truly do. That’s why the words of a poem should
all be fatal. Despite the dark games and delicate
tortures, death has the color and the vigor of
hope. If not, how would it be possible to make poetry from it?
Death first makes poetry of us, it writes
verses and prose on our bodies, it drives us waving divine
flags towards the great dwelling. Maybe death will be the best
thing life has. It’s the chance to reconcile ourselves
with time, which is our substance.
Death reclines beside me like a faithful lover, or like a
piece of forgotten gold. I take her in my hands, and
transform the lover into beloved, and the gold I transform into

21 October 1978

{ Ludovico Silva, Cuaderno de la noche, Caracas: Editorial Arte, 1979 }


Hamburgo, 5 de Febrero de 1930 / José Antonio Ramos Sucre

Hamburg, February 5th, 1930

Ms. Dolores Emilia Madriz.

Illustrious Dolores Emilia:

     I’ve answered the very polite letter you sent me at Juan’s house and now I’ll refer to another one from January 6th. In this new letter you give me the same unvarying solicitude regarding my health.
     But you talk about coming to Europe next April counting on my health.
     By that date the tremendous problem of my health won’t be resolved. I myself don’t even know what I have. I suspect all this horror comes from a parasite infection and two specialists I’ve consulted think the same thing. But if the sickness has its own independent existence and it isn’t related to that infection, then I’m doomed.
     I don’t even know how my brain manages to write a letter.
     The tropical institute in Hamburg assures me they’ve cured the amoebiasis perfectly. But the nervous anxiety hasn’t disappeared yet and it manifests itself in contradictory ways.
     This very week I leave for the Tyrol, where they’ll give me a new treatment to help me recover from the exhaustion and to wean me off the sleeping pills.
     Only the fear of suicide allows me to suffer with such patience. I’ll be good to you and you’ll be happy. But this process has to be decided still.
     German women are adorable, very pretty, of a child-like nature. German men hit their wives. One night I saved a girl from being run over by a car and she clung to me and I had never felt like I did then the infallible victory of women, of the defenseless creature, over compassionate men. The little German girl was like Luisa Elena Almándoz. She was full of terror and was moaning. She was absolutely lacking in virtue or ferocity.
     By the way, everyone in Europe is immoral, they live and let everyone else live. The roars of anthropophagous virtue aren’t heard around here. The Europeans work at a frightening pace and they’re very friendly. No one here curses or blasphemes. These are very cultured countries. I should have been born in Europe because I’m very corrupted*, in other words human.
     You know me.

* “In the facsimile published by the magazine Oriente, 1981, it’s evident that Ramos Sucre crossed out the syllable “com” with a line and an x, which proves he started to write the word “compasivo” [compassionate] before it occurred to him to play with the meaning and surprise his cousin with the unexpected “corrompido” [corrupted].”
(Alba Rosa Hernández Bossio)

{ José Antonio Ramos Sucre, Obra poética, Edición crítica de Alba Rosa Hernández Bossio, Madrid: Colección Archivos, 2001 }


Ginebra, 13 de marzo de 1930 / José Antonio Ramos Sucre

Geneva, March 13th, 1930

Don César Zumeta, Minister of Venezuela.
Paris - Beethoven 3.

My respected friend:
     I greet you with due respect and want to tell you I’ve returned here.
     My illness, a perpetual insomnia, won’t prevent me from serving and obliging you. And if fate were so benevolent as to reduce that illness and I’m able to find relief, I will commit the fearless act of visiting you in Paris. Above all it’s important for me to meet such a spiritual person.
     Mr. Yépez has helped me out with exquisite charity. I hope to be as solicitous with my colleagues and compatriots. I won’t voluntarily give my superiors any motive for censure.
     I protest, mister Zumeta, my affection and consideration.

                                                            JOSÉ ANTONIO RAMOS SUCRE

Los Aires del Presagio, ed. Rafael Ángel Insausti, 2nda ed. (Caracas: Monte Ávila Editores, 1976)

{ José Antonio Ramos Sucre, Obra completa, edición de José Ramón Medina, Caracas: Biblioteca Ayacucho, 1989 }


Hamburgo, 6 de febrero de 1930 / José Antonio Ramos Sucre

Hamburg, February 6th, 1930

Mr. Luis Yépez, General Consul of Venezuela.
Geneva. Rue du Rhône, 39.

Dear Luis:

     The Tropical Institute has released me and declares the illness has been perfectly cured. They’re recommending I go to a sanatorium in Merano and once I get there I’ll write you.
     It was several days ago I sent you those 318 francs again that were needed to smooth out the matter of the consulate’s office. I used a more explicit address.
     The nervous disorders, my desperation, haven’t ceased yet. They’re very singular and they completely disconcert me. The insomnia continues to be horrible.
     If these phenomena don’t disappear, I will have fallen into the deepest disgrace. I would lose my mental faculties.
     I’ve only received a single check so far. You shouldn’t pay me in Hamburg anymore. I’ll be leaving this city tomorrow or the day after.
     I’m sorry about any inconveniences I might cause you.
     I uncover myself to your wife and I hug and kiss the little ones.
     I am your most affectionate,
                                                            JOSÉ ANTONIO

Los Aires del Presagio, ed. Rafael Ángel Insausti (Caracas: Colección Rescate, 1960)

{ José Antonio Ramos Sucre, Obra completa, edición de José Ramón Medina, Caracas: Biblioteca Ayacucho, 1989 }


Caracas-Hamburgo, 7 de enero de 1930. / José Antonio Ramos Sucre

Caracas-Hamburg, January 7th, 1930.

Mr. José Nucete Sardi.

My dear Nucete:

Send me your book again. The one you gave me must have been left behind at the Ministry, when it was time for me to travel. From here it must have gone to a used book store. That’s what I suspect.
     Send me your book to the General Consulate of Venezuela, home of the incomparable Rafael Paredes. I’ve remembered you quite a bit with him.
     I’m now at the Mühlens clinic and I hope to cure my intestine, author of my collapse. The insomnia, of an unusual tenacity, threatens my mental faculties.
     Say thank you for me to Pedro Sotillo for his generous notes on my work and tell him he’s mistaken when he qualifies me as a misogynist. I am a brother to every woman and no one can accuse me of being negligent in their service, much less cruel. The aphorisms I wrote are shots in the air.
     I’ll write everyone at least once. Now I’m trying to resist the treatment. The nervous system is a wreck.
     Take care of yourself and accept the friendship of
                                                                                     JOSÉ ANTONIO RAMOS SUCRE
     How’s the little girl?

Los Aires del Presagio, ed. Rafael Ángel Insausti, 2nda ed. (Caracas: Monte Ávila Editores, 1976)

{ José Antonio Ramos Sucre, Obra completa, edición de José Ramón Medina, Caracas: Biblioteca Ayacucho, 1989 }


Hamburgo, 5 de enero de 1930 / José Antonio Ramos Sucre

Hamburg, January 5th, 1930

Mr. César Zumeta, Minister of Venezuela.

Don César:

I will begin by telling you the don is well donated and that my last name doesn’t lend itself to spiritual word play. It’s worth repeating I’ve professed an invariable sympathy towards you since my childhood and no cause will keep me from cultivating it. I feel honored to have a superior of your qualities.
     The General Consulate of Venezuela here gave me a letter from you and I’m now responding with these inarticulate lines. I beg your understanding for a person afflicted by agonizing insomnias, direct enemies of my mental faculties. It seems a tropical parasite has precipitated this ruin —and I inherit the insomnia and have suffered it for the past eight years.
     I protest that my illness won’t stop me from satisfying my superiors.
     During the insomnia last night I examined a short novel by Goethe, an episode inserted in Wilhelm Meister, and whose name is Bekenntnisse einer Schönen Seele. If you were here, we could admire together that poet’s ability to describe the scruples of a nostalgic soul, agitated by theological restlessness. No critic of Goethe has ever mentioned that brief moment in Wilhelm Meister. At least, I don’t know of any reference from any commentator. Here Goethe differs from the pantheist and the naturalist.
     In conclusion, I promise to go to Paris and give you a hug.
                                                                                     JOSÉ ANTONIO RAMOS SUCRE

Los Aires del Presagio, ed. Rafael Ángel Insausti, 2nda ed. (Caracas: Monte Ávila Editores, 1976)

{ José Antonio Ramos Sucre, Obra completa, edición de José Ramón Medina, Caracas: Biblioteca Ayacucho, 1989 }


Hamburgo, 29-12-29. / José Antonio Ramos Sucre

Hamburg, 12-29-29.


Mr. Luis Yépez, General Consul of Venezuela.
Geneva, Rue du Rhône, 39.

My dear Luis:

I’ll start by telling you I’ve kept my promise and have sent you my last two books. I warn you Dr. Hurtado and I have spoken affectionately about you each night of our interview at the Hotel Bellevue. Such harmony between you two makes me happy. I waited for you until the 27th, the day of my precipitated departure for Germany. I should actually call it an escape. I really need to talk to you.
     I beg you keep the actual office for the consulate on Rue du Rhône. I’m willing to ratify whatever diligence you carry out with that goal in mind, for as long as I’m in Hamburg. Celebrate me a humanitarian contract. I’m at the service of Mr. Dunand and I can write whatever letter he might require, as long as you approve it.
     I bow to your lady and caress your children. I hope to enter the Mühlens clinic, tropical institute. I’ll write you once I’m there.

                                                                                     JOSÉ ANTONIO RAMOS SUCRE

Los Aires del Presagio, ed. Rafael Ángel Insausti (Caracas: Colección Rescate, 1960)

{ José Antonio Ramos Sucre, Obra completa, edición de José Ramón Medina, Caracas: Biblioteca Ayacucho, 1989 }


Merano, 25 de febrero de 1930 / José Antonio Ramos Sucre

Merano, February 25th, 1930

My dear Luis,

     I’m inconsolable about your return to America and your demotion. I want to know the exact day you leave Geneva.I need to see you for a few days to talk about a thousand matters and about the administration of my consulate. I also want you to find me or point out a decent room with no noise and no cold, because my disease is exasperated by both phenomena.
     I’m going to find myself very alone in Switzerland when you’re gone. I possess the habit of suffering, but I’m exhausted by the inner life of the ascetic, of the sick person, of the abnormal. Leopardi is my equal. You would have been of great service and our friendship is fraternal.
     I will write Itriago about you telling him a thousand wonders.
     For now, I won’t send anything to Caracas with you.
     I bow to your wife and hug and kiss the children.
     I am your addict,

José Antonio

{ José Antonio Ramos Sucre, Obra poética, Edición crítica de Alba Rosa Hernández Bossio, Madrid: Colección Archivos, 2001 }


Merano. [Febrero, 1930] / José Antonio Ramos Sucre

Merano. [February, 1930]*

Mister Luis Yépez, General Consul of Venezuela.
Geneva. Rue du Rhône, 39.

Dear Luis:

     I’m here in Merano at your command. I arrived the day before yesterday via Munich and I’m living in the Stephanie sanatorium. I hope to see what path this horrible disease takes. The doctors in Hamburg, among them a specialist in nervous illnesses, examined me from head to toe and can only find a deep debility. The director of the sanatorium here says the same thing.
     I feel as though I’m gravely wounded. I can spend hours at a time in bed without any movement and without trying to get up. I warn you there’s nothing pleasant about the feeling of debility. I expect this whole process will lead me to consumption.
     I’ve discovered a vestige of Goethe here, the street with his name, and I’ve added this find to the memory of Manuel Díaz Rodríguez, who once talked to me about the ethnic composition of the Tyrol. Many Slavs. The German poet must have lived here on his way to Italy. I don’t have the means of verifying this conjecture. I precisely remember his stay in Trento, where he discovered only a single distinguished building: a palace attributed to the devil, that he’d built in a single night.
     I’m sorry that my absence is prolonged and tell Blanco that I’m not in Hamburg. I’d like to spend at least a month here. I count on your generosity. I have a few cents left from the monthly pay you sent me.
     My apologies to Zumeta and Hurtado Machado. The treatment doesn’t let me write them. I don’t have time.
     I uncover myself to your wife and I hug and kiss your children.
     Send me.


*Luis Yépez gave seven letters from Ramos Sucre to Rafael Ángel Insausti for their transcription and publication in the anthology Los aires del presagio (1960). This one wasn’t dated, but Ramos Sucre left for Merano during the first week in February, after the 5th; which means it must have been written during the second week of the month. All the letters to Luis Yépez were handwritten and signed, the first one “José Antonio Ramos Sucre,” but the following ones just “José Antonio” or “J.A.R.S.”

{ José Antonio Ramos Sucre, Obra poética, Edición crítica de Alba Rosa Hernández Bossio, Madrid: Colección Archivos, 2001 }


Cuentas claras / Rafael Cadenas

Clean Slate

Everything I wrote,
clumsy or acceptable,
belongs to me.
Actually, it belongs to many.

And I should
also accept
everything I did,
I should welcome it,
situate its place,
with no judgment.

what I didn’t do,
the reverse that completes me
urging me to lower my voice.

{ Rafael Cadenas, En torno a Basho y otros asuntos, Madrid: Pre-Textos, 2016 }


Hoy / Rafael Cadenas


Do people
still talk
about the poem?

It’s barely
even written.

There are
so many
and then,
a desire
for articulation.

{ Rafael Cadenas, En torno a Basho y otros asuntos, Madrid: Pre-Textos, 2016 }


Colonia / Rafael Cadenas


These foreigners
made light wooden houses,
they clung to the mountainous hills,
seeming to hide in them
and barely touched the forest,
and let it blanket them.
They only took what they needed,
so today the town
melts into the mountain that seems
interrupted by houses.
This is called clean work
without harming the earth, but instead
becoming its friend.
We didn’t learn that simple art
or what this place is trying to tell us.
What understanding expands
like fragrant news
across these valleys.

{ Rafael Cadenas, En torno a Basho y otros asuntos, Madrid: Pre-Textos, 2016 }


El otro exilio / Rafael Cadenas

The Other Exile

The words we speak
glow from within
from a clearing that floods them,
though we’re not there, but
in the outskirts where we live
like pariahs from being.

{ Rafael Cadenas, En torno a Basho y otros asuntos, Madrid: Pre-Textos, 2016 }


Sin canon / Rafael Cadenas

With No Canon

You live
by letting yourself go.
You’ve given up so much ground
that you don’t feel yourself.
You rummage through yesterday
for your old design
and can’t recover it
and wouldn’t change it for the now
where you take root

{ Rafael Cadenas, En torno a Basho y otros asuntos, Madrid: Pre-Textos, 2016 }


«La mirada» de Guillermo Sucre / Néstor Mendoza

Guillermo Sucre’s La mirada

                    [Image: María Núñez, from a portrait of G. Sucre by Lisbeth Salas]

There’s an alarming level of omission when it comes to the poetry of Guillermo Sucre. His poetic oeuvre, like that of many Venezuelan poets of his generation, isn’t found in any bookstores. Only in select personal libraries could we, maybe, read him. The level of obscurity is such that, many people might believe in a probable fallacy, especially if we thing of international readers: Sucre’s poetry doesn’t exist, and thus, neither does the poet. That’s how, without intending to, he’s moved since the early 1960s when he published his first book of poems: Mientras suceden los días (1961). His facet as a literary critic, his most well-known and celebrated, has been reinforced by the recent republication of La máscara, la transparencia (Caracas: El Estilete, 2016). Finally, the readers who had been wanting to read him and hadn’t been able to find the Monte Ávila Editores (1975) and Fondo de Cultura Económica (1985) editions were satisfied.

With Sucre we find evidence of how the Venezuelan reader tends to approach his favorite authors. We read those authors aslant and in fragments. We feed a monster with odds and ends (with anthologies, if we’re lucky), but our hunger remains intact. That’s why we seek out certain used book stores, as if discovering some millenary manuscript, old folios of incalculable philological value. This happened to me, for example, with La mirada (Caracas: Editorial Tiempo Nuevo, 1970), the second book of poems by our poet born in Tumeremo (land of infamy today and horrendous disappearances).

                    [Photographs by Samoel González Montaño]

The poems that make up this book were written starting in 1962, and they close in 1969. We notice this in the sections Sucre has established: “In the depths of summer, 1962,” “Figuration and act, 1963, 65,” “Mutations, 1966, 68” and “The glance, 1969.”

La mirada revolves around light. It is light. Guillermo Sucre becomes obsessed with illumination and his habitat is the daily gleam or darkness illuminated by electric light. The edges, in that sense, are dimmed in those blazes, those flashes the poet leaves behind with premeditation. The person speaking to us in the poems could be an insect (a hornet) fascinated by a light bulb (a lamp), that seeks and clings to the hot and shiny crystal surface, not caring that its feet might burn to a crisp. What’s the reason for that obsessive search for whiteness?

What’s important (for that insect) is to possess and be in that light, whatever it might cost. If we turn it off, if a tangible or metaphysical hand shifts suddenly and turns it off, the insect moves away, clumsily, toward somewhere else in the room. In its dumb flight, confused and erratic, it stumbles into everything in its path. It doesn’t want (isn’t interested in) the night. Its insect eyes are made for those big emanations, for “midday’s piercing hour” and for “The ruins of dawn.” Poetry for the summer, for the desert to be more precise, that waits vehemently for a light to dictate its own patterns and rhythms. The sun appears even at night.

Metapoetry, theorization within the poem itself, is another visible recourse: “The possibility of being naked in the poem; in the proliferation, in the variety of the poem.” La mirada is a poetics: Sucre observes with a maximized and selective vision: “Where others don’t see / is where the glance I am stops.” In other words, the poet stops in places that aren’t usually seen. I’m not only talking about unexpected places, but also those spaces that, because they’re so close, are easily omitted.

Sucre’s poems alternate ideas and images. Or the ideas are covered over by images (“The vine of knowledge”). The landscape of La mirada isn’t tropical: it’s located in territories that have four seasons, not in this Venezuelan earth that knows only sun and sudden rain. That’s made explicit in several instances of the book: “tall, golden fig tree in that island’s summer;” “We were in autumn;” “We starred in an unknown spring.”

There’s an explicit influence from French poetry in Guillermo Sucre: epigraphs from Mallarmé, Pierre Jean Jouve and Pierre de Place guide the transit of several of these poems; from this last author, Sucre translated “Image of Elohim,” included in the book Tierra prometida (Caracas: Monte Ávila Editores, 1969), whose original title was Terre interdite. What form does that influence take? In the associative freedom and the pleasure in the potentialities of the image: language as a discursive axis and as a theme, as he expresses it in the verse: “The poem whose only theme is the glance.”

La mirada is oblique, intermittent, although lucid and hallucinatory at the same time. Sucre experiments with the recourse of sound and semantic games (“Aire olivo entre olivares,” “ave de la ávida soledad del espacio,” “grávida ingrávida”). This book, it seems, leans toward certain searches for a writerly consciousness. A book to be captured, more than felt.

{ Néstor Mendoza, Letra Muerta, 3 November 2016 }


Madrugada / Armando Rojas Guardia


Papers. Books and folders
stalking. Notebooks and folios, rigorous.
Just over there, the pieces
where collected knowledge
sleeps away its useless vanity.
Indifferent and stubborn, the walls
delimit insomnia, this vigil
that measures the silence of the doors,
calibrates the room’s geometry,
feels the exactitude of the window.
Fixed clock. If I open the closet
I’ll find my clothes shivering. In the drawers
the secret opens its lips.
The mirror returns a dumb anecdote:
me writing these lines.
                                         I know I’m looking for
your smell in the words: it’s your body
that breathes in the letters of desire.
But it’s pointless. Today you’re only named by eviction
and here in this shipwrecked room I practice
the autopsy of remembrance.

{ Armando Rojas Guardia, Yo que supe de la vieja herida, Caracas: Monte Ávila Editores, 1985 }


¿Poesía? / Armando Rojas Guardia


I speak (pompous, satisfied poem).

But next door
their radios also speak
and the commercials
and the AP speaks from the newspaper
and the Minister of Culture

We would have to
unspeak (ourselves).

Today is the only function of poetry.

{ Armando Rojas Guardia, Yo que supe de la vieja herida, Caracas: Monte Ávila Editores, 1985 }


Nadie escoge su olvido / Ida Gramcko

No one picks their oblivion

No one picks their oblivion.
What for if their absence
reminds us what once was and the quick nest
keeps the appetite going ceaselessly?
“Come back,” shouts love, and what has been
is a new transparency in its shout.
Immense being immersed in the request
your voice is returned, your confidence,
your secret, your skin, your repeated
faithful spring that doesn’t include lack
but rather a change of place, the transfer
of the site to another sweetness, another potency.
No, I won’t send you back. What is maintained
is still around though its living sequence escapes.
You live here and there, so transcendent...
Love, you’re gone and your presence swarms.
Nothing says: prohibited.
“Come in!” say the doors of absence.


Nadie escoge su olvido.
¿Para qué si la ausencia
recuerda lo que fue y el raudo nido
prosigue sin cesar en la apetencia?
¡Vuelve!, grita el amor, y lo que ha sido
es en su grito nueva transparencia.
Inmenso ser inmerso en el pedido
devuelta está tu voz, tu confidencia,
tu secreto, tu piel, tu repetido
fiel hontanar que nunca es la carencia
sino el cambio de sitio, el transferido
sitial a otro dulzor, a otra potencia.
No, devolverte no. Lo mantenido
queda aunque escape su vivaz secuencia.
Vives aquí y allá, tan trascendido…
Amor, no estás y bulle tu presencia.
Nada dice: prohibido.
¡Entrad!, dicen las puertas de la ausencia.


{ Ida Gramcko, Poemas, Caracas: Ediciones Letra Muerta, 2016 }


Caracol, el hermano / Ida Gramcko

Brother Seashell

Brother seashell,
the same I, more shell. Concise
its form is untarnished and unscratched
so man can suffer a rich soul,
a soul of his own in fleece and in parts,
intimate, immense, always in thirst and full.
That’s how we build a human place,
but as full of him as it is of breeze,
We invent
a stone wall... and so different!
A new wall, strange? Only in its continuous fresh solitude.
Solitude, the solitary again, distance again? What about the caress?
Calm down, my love; our eyes are set on what’s far, touch the long profile, smooth stone
he says by the voice of his vigor: I love you.
The singular form is the infinite one.


Caracol, el hermano

Caracol, el hermano,
el mismo yo, mas caracol. Concisa
su forma sigue sin barniz ni estrago
para que el hombre sufra un alma rica,
un alma suya con el vellón y el gajo,
íntima, inmensa, siempre en sed y ahíta.
Así construimos un lugar humano,
pero tan lleno de él como de brisa.
una pared de cal… ¡y tan distinta!
Un muro nuevo, ¿raro? Solo en su fresca soledad continua.
—¿Soledad, otra vez lo solitario, otra vez la distancia? ¿Y la caricia?—
Cálmate, amor; lo nuestro es lo lejano, toca el largo perfil, la piedra lisa
dice por voz de su vigor: yo te amo.
La forma singular es la infinita.


{ Ida Gramcko, Poemas, Caracas: Ediciones Letra Muerta, 2016 }


Para construir la sola cosa pura / Ida Gramcko

To build the single pure thing

To build the single pure thing
you have to be it and resist inside it.
Be alone with its dark waiting...
The five pines hurt from the star!
Gestating it, and not only in the waist,
womb and will should stop quarreling
so if he says: I bequeath her creature
she responds: if it sparkles
remember the pain’s not enough if it doesn’t
procure something different from its sung trace.


Para construir la sola cosa pura

Para construir la sola cosa pura
hay que ser ella y resistir en ella.
Estar a solas con su espera oscura...
¡Los cinco pinos duelen de la estrella!
Gestándola, y no sólo en la cintura,
más vientre y voluntad no hagan querella
que si aquel dice: lego su criatura
aquella le responde: si destella
que no basta el dolor si no procura
algo distinto a su cantada huella.


{ Ida Gramcko, Poemas, Caracas: Ediciones Letra Muerta, 2016 }


Canoabo / Vicente Gerbasi


The sky has large white chickens
that float over a silence of trees.
In the patios, grey streams of coffee grains fall
and their murmur is the murmur of the afternoon.
There are slow cows on the streets overgrown with weeds,
where naked children gather
around a pineapple preserves vendor,
where an old man flies a red silk kite
with a wide rainbow tail.
It’s true, the rainbow was up in the damp hills yesterday.
The senses were gleaming in the cacao’s purple fruits.
We were staring at the peacocks for a long time.
In them the afternoon begins a solar sadness.

Los espacios cálidos (1952)

{ Vicente Gerbasi, Conversación con la intemperie. Seis poetas venezolanos, selección y prólogo de Gustavo Guerrero, Barcelona, España: Galaxia Gutenberg/Círculo de Lectores, 2008 }


Sentido de la noche / Vicente Gerbasi

Meaning of the Night

The dark silences where the beetles glow,
the warm pupil like rancor where a pine tree burns,
the squirrel’s fear in the middle of the eyes,
a lightning bolt in the fluvial depths of memory,
a moment for me to become a part of the night,
in a pond of stellar insomnia.
The darknesses in the water give me unfinished spaces,
glowing jewels, chandeliers made of nuptial dwellings.

The player wanders around and looks at the spaces:
a tower with its bells in silence,
the king of cups amid the stars,
the horse of swords in darkened hills,
the jack of gold in the pond’s reflections.

The walker covers the tropic’s monotonous year,
the city hidden among its own lights,
listening from the silence of the shadows
to the song of the aquatic birds looking for the rains in the south.

Los espacios cálidos (1952)

{ Vicente Gerbasi, Conversación con la intemperie. Seis poetas venezolanos, selección y prólogo de Gustavo Guerrero, Barcelona, España: Galaxia Gutenberg/Círculo de Lectores, 2008 }


Realidad de la noche / Vicente Gerbasi

Reality of the Night

A bitter almond shadow
I savor amidst the world.
Under my eyelids the night’s fury is locked
and behind the days is the murmur of the sea against the breakwater.
My senses echo in the cranium’s chamber,
in the concave darkness of lightning bugs.
There’s a collapse of the night like carbon
in my left rib,
a water fright.
Shadow of the poisonous bushes, round shiny leaves,
refuge for beggars beneath the fireworks.
Hidden shade behind the windows,
shade of the plains, of the chair, of the lamp.
Shade of the epileptics, of the blind.
Shade of medicine, of clocks, of hats.
Here are my hands playing in the dirt,
mute sustenance, simple conviction of death.
I’m a witness, an exile on crepuscular avenues,
on a Tuesday during Carnival,
with kids that reach my knees.
A foreboding pursues me like a nocturnal mask.
Stars fall on the plains, at the edge of the cities.
The hands that make the bread mold the night.
The lamps illuminate the bread.

Los espacios cálidos (1952)

{ Vicente Gerbasi, Conversación con la intemperie. Seis poetas venezolanos, selección y prólogo de Gustavo Guerrero, Barcelona, España: Galaxia Gutenberg/Círculo de Lectores, 2008 }


Déjame estar / Guillermo Sucre

Let me be

Let me be among those rocks, big sponges hardened at the edge of the sea. The piercing hour of midday pulsing with the spines. It’s not the crown of repose, the wing of repose you sift over your forehead. Happiness is savage now. With the color of our skin we’ve become cruel. Hostile and dominant like the Sun.

Dispossessed. In the penury of our drowsiness we consume, however, the season’s fire. The bird that ferments in the pride of the seas liberates our desire. These waters lick your body, they smudge it. Later on it radiates in the constellations of your dream.

Coin spent in the commerce of the ports; ridiculous metal, burning the hands of the poor; a sound that resonates as crime in the night of the suburbs; curse of heroes and saints:

                                                                                That’s how I say our love shines
                                                                                and devours itself on these coasts.

La mirada (1970)

{ Guillermo Sucre, Conversación con la intemperie. Seis poetas venezolanos, selección y prólogo de Gustavo Guerrero, Barcelona, España: Galaxia Gutenberg/Círculo de Lectores, 2008 }


El verano sacudía / Guillermo Sucre

The summer shook

The summer shook its cracked scarlet salamander tail.
I said to myself, it’s extermination.
It was the plumed acrimony of the climate, buzzing.
The dry sound of the pines, where the light creaks.
The earth’s intoxication, its fury later disseminated in the afternoons.
The sea that knows its own lethargic humor and then it was shining;
copious idol, profaning with its lasciviousness the most solitary coasts.

We lived thanks to that splendor.

La mirada (1970)

{ Guillermo Sucre, Conversación con la intemperie. Seis poetas venezolanos, selección y prólogo de Gustavo Guerrero, Barcelona, España: Galaxia Gutenberg/Círculo de Lectores, 2008 }


Te recuerdo, otoño / Guillermo Sucre

I remember You, Autumn

I remember you, autumn, in these leaves overflowing the backyard of the house. For days, the sun dries them out or the rain softens them. They dissolve and return to dirt, without you, autumn, unleashing the whirlwind of your ecstatic light, the imminence of what will sweep everything away. I can’t smell you, autumn, I can’t follow your footsteps, the exile from your ocher and aerial body. I can’t say: now it’s autumn and we face the long test of purification, of dispossession. But I can still love you more. The caobo tree is now even more delicate: from its nakedness I watch a tapestry with small solar spots appear.

La vastedad (1988)

{ Guillermo Sucre, Conversación con la intemperie. Seis poetas venezolanos, selección y prólogo de Gustavo Guerrero, Barcelona, España: Galaxia Gutenberg/Círculo de Lectores, 2008 }


The Urgent Cause of the Recall Referendum in Venezuela

The following piece of political reflection constitutes a brief recounting of the affronts suffered by Venezuelans in recent years and a claim for the urgent concretion of the recall referendum this very year. Signed by over one hundred people, a group that includes various generations of poets, novelists, essayists, editors, university professors and artists. Besides proposing the start of many necessary discussions, it invites the reader to think of the importance of culture in the country to come.

We Venezuelans, writers, university professors and artists of diverse social tendencies and aesthetic and political positions, dedicated to expressions of sensibility and thought, moved by our frank indignation in the face of the situation in Venezuela today, reject the sectarian, vulgar and arrogant manner in which the current government leads the country’s fate, as a militaristic movement capable of utilizing the possibilities of democracy and invoking popular power only when it’s convenient for them.

Guided by a project of social engineering that equates the current government with the worst authoritarian experiences, it’s not too difficult to conclude —this isn’t just an idea, it’s a suffering that begins in the body— that they only want to install a single and servile “thought” in Venezuelan society; yes, they want to institute by force a society with citizens whose heads are hung low, meek, in submission and conforming to the sharing of the misery they have deliberately orchestrated; a society afflicted by shortages, sick and starving, depressed in all possible senses, deprived of the most elemental goods necessary for the proper development and formation of life itself. All of this for the single goal of perpetuating themselves in power through propaganda in all public media outlets, the most perverse manipulation of consciences, political persecution, coercion, the control of food, systematic harassment, persecution, defamation, calumny, extortion, insults, threats, absolute control of Judicial Powers, along with the blocking of the National Assembly and its functions for legislation, research, interpellation, discussion and control.

It’s no secret for anyone that we’re living through the systematic destruction of the Republic, understood in its most logical sense as a place for co-existence among those who think differently. In recent decades —from 1999 until today, punctually— we’ve witnessed and been victims of political, legal, economic and social measures that seek to repress and suppress the individual, along with all his creative potential, turning him into an acritical, obedient, impoverished mass, sunken in the blind cult of personality around the quarrelsome caudillo Hugo Chávez, the great author of this tragedy that the current president is in charge of prolonging. After destroying the country’s productive sectors, distributing gifts to neighboring countries in exchange for complicity, strategic silences and doctrinaire advisors, do we still need to remind ourselves that Chavismo wasted one of the greatest petroleum booms in our history? Yes, we need to remind ourselves and observe how the consequences are expressed in every detail of daily life. When it comes time to respond to the interpellations, there are no answers, only justifications and aggression. Some functionaries remain silent. Others ask for faith and sacrifice, while they deny any humanitarian aid for the country for the most essential items related to health care and food. Relatedly, others are fired from their jobs for adding their names to the Recall Referendum. What else can we ask for when faced by the daily scenes of people scavenging through trash bags on the streets to find the most minimal amounts of nourishment? Is it possible, by means of some supposedly socialist ideological subterfuge, to ignore the reality of people dying in hospitals for lack of medicine, treatments and medical equipment?

It’s important to remind ourselves that the current government does not follow the very same Constitution it proposed in 1999; undermining by all means the observance of the Recall Referendum for this year; boycotting, prohibiting and repressing all the civic and peaceful protests of Venezuelans (for instance, at the doors of the National Electoral Council); it persecutes, tortures and jails students. It’s no coincidence that it has also been asphyxiating the budgets of the autonomous universities, for the mere fact of not aligning themselves with their unilateral and sectarian position. Now this government intends to hand out bags of food, but it actually wants to know who their opponents are, how many oppose them (what a task!). Isn’t the creation of a “system” that instead of attacking problems multiplies them an alarming aberration? What type of “humanitarian” government brags about handing out small quantities of cornmeal, margarine, milk and sugar? These, among other matters —one of them, the most difficult one, without a doubt, is the use of hunger as an arm of political extortion— make the urgency of the Referendum more pertinent than ever today. What should be a mea culpa, a revision and correction of economic policies, is taken by the government as “revolutionary achievements” and “victories” in their tedious, imaginary battles.

Each one of us, within ourselves, holds a memorial for all the affronts and horrors that Chavismo has perpetrated in recent years. It’s not unreasonable to think these could be turned into a Universal Exhibit. Quotes, photos, videos, statistics, testimonies, speeches, forced government TV and radio transmissions, tortures, taunts. It would be a walking allegory of what we don’t want to be as a country. This exhibit —let the reader assume it as a way of not ever forgetting these years— should have a permanent hall in every country of this region that has been complicit in modeling our disgrace, beginning with the dictatorship of the Castro brothers, who today, contrary to what’s happening here, seem to be seeking another path.

We want to collaborate in the organization of a country with tenacious, creative and hard-working people. For this purpose we think that culture is tied to our current storm and will help us think of the country to come, one that’s more conscious, more tolerant, more social, more political —in the human sense of the word: knowing how to be with others, knowing how to exist amid differences— and in this way being able to defend the right to be free, capable of carrying out our desires and projects, far from the separations, the empty praises of poverty, the excessive cult of personality and the militarization of everyday life. The relationship between citizens and the State should not be based on submission and humiliation, under any government. On the contrary, it must be critical: building, organizing, proposing, creating, expanding instead of profaning, pulverizing, expropriating, kidnapping, manipulating, blackmailing.

With a deliberative spirit, freedom and the desire for a better, more just, more egalitarian life, we demand immediately a more just and plural country, whose institutions and civic life —sustained with the base of a robust democracy— are capable of being in tune with the most immediate popular demands, as well as resolving the intense social, economic and cultural conflicts that assault our daily lives at this very moment.

Culture —literature, poetry, visual arts, theater, dance, traditional popular culture, memory; in sum, independent thought, ideas, sensibility and creativity— can’t continue to be an adornment in Venezuelan social life, nor much less an instrument of domination for the established classes in the very complacent and comfortable Chavista cultural power.

The most noble function of culture —among others— is to interpolate, to interpret, to question. It implies a group of identities and visions of the world that, far from disturbing each other, converse. It’s also the point of departure for thinking about ourselves and germinating in our consciousnesses a critical, autonomous and fertile thought, full of imagination, impermeable to the will to dominate and indoctrinate. In other words, minds that are impermeable to the pretensions of the personalist, regressive and anachronistic project represented by Chavismo, a political current full of antagonisms and internal contradictions, which perhaps have yet to fully explode in all their magnitude in the public sphere.

Those who identify with these discussions should add their voices, taking advantage of the fact that at this moment of imminent danger there are still spaces for dissident expressions, facing the unstoppable disaster that overwhelms our country. It is a civic urgency that brings us together in the face of the machinery of control represented by Chavismo in power. May these words be debated, replied and multiplied, under the most varied forms, by each person, in every corner of the country, in every community, in each neighborhood, in every street, in restaurants, schools, newsstands, high schools, military bases, grocery stores, lines, universities, hospitals, in all the places where the current government —capable of persecuting even its own dissident currents, we can’t forget this— concretizes its ravages. We must remember: the very nature of this government is tied to intolerance and fanaticism. These pulsations go against any project elaborated for the common good, for peace, concordance, moderation, dialogue or critical understanding.

Today we also resist the submission and humiliation under an arrogant clique that has kidnapped Venezuela’s institutions. With our names and our citizenship, perhaps our most prized possessions, we are willing to raise our critical voices and participate in all possible discussions for a profound democracy, whose institutions can guide our current differences. We know: these desires can’t be achieved without the cause of the Referendum. Or in other words: the cause of the Referendum is the beginning of the other country, less subdued. That is the reason for this shout in the face of all attempts to delay —or prohibit— the imminent presidential recall process. This option today represents our right to justice, liberty, civility, democracy, in sum, our right to exist in the 21st century. May it be so.

Guillermo Sucre

Alfredo Chacón

Ana Teresa Torres

Elisa Lerner

Rowena Hill

María Fernanda Palacios

José Balza

Rafael Cadenas

Armando Rojas Guardia

Igor Barreto

Yolanda Pantin

Edda Armas

Gabriela Kizer

Santos López

Carmen Verde Arocha

Alfredo Herrera

Alexis Romero

María Antonieta Flores

Luis Gerardo Mármol Bosch

Patricia Guzmán

Sonia González

Carmen Leonor Ferro

Julieta León

Luis Pérez-Oramas

Vasco Szinetar

Nelson Rivera

Elías Pino Iturrieta

Fernando Rodríguez

Joaquín Marta Sosa

Arturo Gutiérrez Plaza

Antonio López Ortega

Miguel Ángel Campos Torres

Ednodio Quintero

Marina Gasparini

Violeta Rojo

Gisela Kozak

Sandra Caula

Luna Benítez

Luisa de la Ville

Marcelino Bisbal

Tulio Hernández

Jaime Bello León

Raquel Gamus

Víctor Bravo

Miguel Szinetar

Ricardo Jiménez

Diómedes Cordero

Francisco Arévalo

Mario Amengual

Alejandro Padrón

Ramón Ordaz

Luis Miguel Isava

Carlos Sandoval

Milagros Mata-Gil

Mireya Tabuas

Krina Ber

Bernardino Herrera León

Humberto Ortiz B.

Juan Cristóbal Castro

Nela Ochoa

Kataliñ Alava

Ángela Bonadies

Roberto Martínez Bachrich

Luis Moreno Villamediana

Guillermo Parra

Diego Arroyo Gil

Lorena González

Julio Bolívar

Patricia Velasco

Jacqueline Goldberg

Vilma Ramia

Harry Almela

Xiomara Jiménez

Aixa Sánchez

Sebastián de la Nuez

Vince De Benedittis

Norberto José Olivar

Juan Carlos Chirinos

Sonia Chocrón

Juan Carlos Méndez Guédez

Gustavo Valle

Fedosy Santaella

Lena Yau

Rafael Sánchez

Carlos Enrique Guzmán Cárdenas

Alberto Hernández

Miguel Ortiz

Keila Vall

Florencio Quintero

Samuel González-Seijas

Ricardo Ramírez Requena

Santiago Acosta

Alejandro Sebastiani Verlezza

Cesar Segovia

Néstor Mendoza

Rubén Darío Carrero

Blanca Rivero

Graciela Yáñez Vicentini

Franklin Hurtado

Luis Perozo Cervantes

Alejandro Castro

Zakarias Zafra Fernandez

Kaury Ramos

Claudia Márquez O.

Lucía Jiménez Perozo

Luis Marciales

Sashenka Garcia

Luis Yslas

Willy McKey

Mario Morenza

Álvaro Rafael

Georges Galo

Víctor García Ramírez

Kelly Martínez

Diosce Martínez

Ramelis Velásquez

Kira Kariakin

Flavia Pesci-Felitri

Sandy Juhasz

Ana Cristina Henríquez

Daniel García P.

Carlos Paris

Michelle Roche Rodríguez

Yoyiana Ahumada L.

Geraudí González

Mariana Fulcado

Johnny Romero

Dira Martínez Mendoza

Keyla Holmquist-Holmquist

Patricia Heredia Pelaca

Anaira Vásquez

Corina Michelena

Virginia Riquelme

Jairo Rojas Rojas

Monday, 29 of August, 2016.

[This English version of the letter includes additional signatures.]

{ Papel Literario, El Nacional, 11 September 2016 }