Saturday, February 24

Ángel Guinda, poetry as conduct and resistance

Last Saturday, January 29, the poet from Zaragoza, Ángel Guinda, a poet from Zaragoza, passed away. He received the National Poetry Prize in 2012, the Aragonese Letters Prize in 2010 and was co-author of the anthem of his Community although he has been, for a long time, a Madrilenian by adoption of the best of the Madrids. The artist, born in 1948, has been one of the essential voices of Spanish poetry in the last forty years.

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From his first poetry book, greedy life, from 1981, until Dazzles and Recaps, of 2020, and the one that is still unpublished, in print, his work and his figure have become a reference for two generations of poets, for whom poetry has been something more than narcissistic exhibition and self-reference or empty aesthetic game. Not in vain his first poetic manifesto, in 1978, of the several he gave us throughout his life, was entitled poetry and subversion. then they would come useful poetry (1994), The World of the Poet. The Poet in the World (2007) and violent poetry (2012).

Among his collections of poems, one can highlight the bitter almond (1989), The Terrible: Expedition into the Dark (1990), After all (1994), Knowledge of the environment (nineteen ninety six), The arrival of bad weather (1998), biography of death (2001), All the light in the world. Minimal love poems (2002), perimental poems (2005) clear inside (2007), poems for others (2009), Spectral (2011), lava box (2012), rigor vitae (2013), matter of love (2013), Cathedral of the Night (2015), along with three books of aphorisms: Breviary (1992), Footprints (1998) and footprint book (2014); as well as a fundamental essay on another poet and key human being also in his own life and work, with whom he maintained ‘demanding’, but always tender relations, for a time, Leopoldo María Panero: The danger of living again (2015).

Guinda has an immense poetic work published in part in Argentina, Cuba or Italy. In Spain, much of it for his beloved Aragonese publisher Olifante, with which he has maintained special relationships throughout his life. But in addition, the poet was one of a faithful, kind and supportive companion for his friends, both in the trenches of life and in writing with meaning. He never said no to a justified commitment or an invitation, whoever the host was, however humble he might be.

For years, his gathering of the alembic, along with other endearing colleagues, has been an obligatory reference in the poetic life of Madrid and a meeting point and source of energy, inspiration and encouragement for countless poets who have passed through it.

For Ángel Guinda, poetry had to be a response to the world, ethical conduct, or it was not poetry; for even when we respond to or question ourselves, if we are honest, we respond to the world that has made us. However, that response must be subject to the realm of metaphor and rhythm, the essential constituents of the poetic fact; In that response, respect for the rules that govern the art we practice should not be lost; not everything goes, no matter how justified the reasons that move us, just as not everything goes on the potter’s wheel, or in the blacksmith’s forge. The search for poetic meaning has a cost, the commitment to the real world, but also to what is essentially poetic.

From a certain moment, death precisely, as a denial of the living, but also as a revealer of the value of existing and living, became the essential poetic material of his work, along with love, as a captivating, polyhedral and dangerous experience. …

I am no longer short of breath.

(Now I breathe your breath.)

by your side

I thirst more for fire than for water.

by your side

everything disappears except you.

(I leave the world when I enter you.)

Finally, the poetry of Ángel Guinda is largely framed in what Alberto García-Teresa has called Poetry of Critical Consciousness. Like all his life, it has been resistance; resistance to discouragement and despair, resistance against the injustices that cause the pain of the humble and against the dominion of death, until the end. Until, after three years of fighting the disease and of dignified and devoted resistance, he was defeated, but not defeated, by the only invincible enemy.

… To die is to be still, deaf,

blind, mute, missing,

disconnected from everyone and everything,

of us too;

never come home again.

no longer emit signals,

receive them either.

To die is not to return.

In fact, his last published interview (in Bukowski House, Chile, and in culture odyssey, Spain) is a conversation in which he gives an essential review of the meaning of his work and in which he also deals with illness and death; for those readers who wish to enter the Angel Guinda consciously and dignified in the face of the foreseeable end and in the face of the meaning of what has been lived and what has been witnessed.