Luis García Montero Reading at the University of Washington

Luis Farcia Montero
Luis García Montero Reading 3/3/2010

The Spanish poet Luis García Montero read at the University tonight (3/3/2010) to a packed room of students and academics. He read 8 poems from his body of work that the graduate students had translated into English. I’m not that familiar with Spanish poets and so had no idea what to expect, although I had seen his interview on El Público Lee. He is considered one of Spain’s best poets and is considered a realist poet who uses the elements from the everyday to express emotion or the experience of living. The poems that he read were very interesting and would be worth a return to. While he is a realist, the poems did have a good sense of imagery and didn’t slide into that reportage that is so real it describes nothing but itself and seems to afflict many of the American poets I’ve read and seen recently. Before each poem he explained where the ideas came from and they were often from the most basic experiences, but went beyond the moment he explained and captured something about modern living. The one I remember most was his poem to his mother. It was a reflection on the dreams she sacrificed to her family that in the era of Franco were not possible. And although he fought with her as young man who was experiencing the transition to democracy, he now sees her as someone who was so much more.

Bright Star – A Review

Bright Star is a quiet film, which is fitting the early 19th century, before music and industrial noise became ever present. Why should a love scene between Keats and Brwane swell with what was not possible? The silence, too, is befitting the romantic contemplation, a quiet amongst nature. With the panoramic beauty, the flowers blooming in the the meadows, the winds amongst the reeds as the only sounds, Bright Star is a Romantic film that not only quotes Keats, but wants to be Keats, or at least his representation, a poem. And in this sense the film succeeds, though the contemplation and lack of music can be as jarring as if the music were playing at twice the usual volume: absence can be as powerful as presence.

Bright Star is also a romance between Keats and Fanny Brawne and the film navigates the early 19th century’s formality and class structures with the same contemplation that places a flower as the object of affection, but one that is inquiry and strangely requires a distance to fully enjoy it. The scenes between the two characters build as the romance grows and the distance of affection dissipates, but between those moments of affection the stiffness in manners reappears.

The effect, then, is a film that is at once Romantic, celebrating the power in nature to animate the spirit, and yet lives in a world of distances both in terms of the characters, and those of an audience used to the sounds of modern films. It is those distances that make the film feel slow. What is really in play, though, is not plot or charter development, of which there is ample, but the closest attempt to make a bio-pic not only tell the story, but reflect the essence of the are those characters represent. Bright Star clearly reaches that level and it doesn’t really matter what the verisimilitude of the film is, which is a refreshing thing since so often bio-pics are little more than a TV movie of the week.

Mario Benedetti Has Passed Away

Uruguayan author Mario Benedetti has passed away at age 88. As El Pais said

Muere Mario Benedetti después de una larga vida de lucha contra la adversidad y en defensa de la alegría

Mario Benedetti died after a long life fighting against adversity and defending joy

Jose Sarmago has a short reflection in El Pais.

The work of Mario Benedetti, friend, brother, is surprising in all aspects, in the expansiveness of the varied genres he touched, in the density of his poetic expression as much for the extreme conceptual liberty that he uses. The language of Benedetti has deliberately ignored the supposed existence of poetic words and the others that are not. For Benedetti, language, above all, is poetic. Read from this perspective, the work of the great Uruguayan poet presents us not only as the sum of a vital experience, but over all, as the persistent search for and the reaching a feeling, that of a human being on the planet, in a country, in a city or in a village, or simply in his house or in a collective action. There are many reasons that bring us to read Benedetti. Perhaps the best is this: the poet has become the voice of his own village. Or better, a universal poet.

La obra de Mario Benedetti, amigo, hermano, es sorprendente en todos los aspectos, ya sea por la extensión en la variedad de géneros que toca, ya sea por la densidad de su expresión poética como por la extrema libertad conceptual que usa. El léxico de Benedetti ha ignorado deliberadamente la supuesta existencia de palabras “poéticas” y de otras que no lo son. Para Benedetti, la lengua, toda ella, es poética. Leída desde esta perspectiva, la obra del gran poeta uruguayo se nos presenta, no sólo como suma de una experiencia vital, sino, sobre todo, como la búsqueda persistente y lograda de un sentido, el del ser humano en el planeta, en el país, en la ciudad o en la aldea, en su casa simplemente o en la acción colectiva. Son muchas las razones que nos llevan a la lectura de Benedetti. Tal vez la principal sea ésa, precisamente: que el poeta se ha convertido en voz de su propio pueblo. O sea, en poeta universal.

If you read Spanish you can read about him at Clarin also.