Featured poet: Augusto Rodríguez

Sep 21, 2018 Comments Off on Featured poet: Augusto Rodríguez by

Augusto Rodríguez was born in Guayaquil, Ecuador in 1979. He is a poet, journalist, editor of El Quirófano Ediciones, university professor in Guayaquil and director of the Festival Internacional de Poesía de Guayaquil Ileana Espinel Cedeño. He has written more than 20 books of poetry, stories, novels, interviews and essays, published in Spain, Mexico, Cuba, Peru and Ecuador. He was one of the founders of the cultural group Buseta de papel, and has been invited to many international readings and festivals. Part of his poetic work has been translated into English, Arabic, Portuguese, Catalan, Romanian, Italian, German, Turkish, French, and Kannada.

Through poems and prose fragments, Rodríguez pieces together a metaphorical autobiography, constructed of brief philosophical meditations and imagistic gleams that illuminate his reality. A prolific writer in many genres, Rodríguez forms part of a vital current in Latin American literature interested in constructing a body of work that begins from his own life, but quickly links to that of others, with constant feedback mechanisms. “Poems should spring from all the surrounding circumstances without contempt for the most common, which comes from ordinary situations. It should make use of everything around it to create, destroy itself and go back to creating again,” Rodríguez wrote, in an essay about his poetic approach and contemporary literary movements in Ecuador.

Rodríguez’s language is simple, but intertextual games proliferate; his poems engage with both Latin American authors like the Uruguayan writer Ida Vitale and the Mexican poet Luis Armenta Malpica, and to non-Latin American authors like Walt Whitman. Some texts begin with a first line taken from the work of other poets. This constant interaction with the poems of others produces an effect of deep collaboration, an interaction with other writers that is simultaneously social and literary. Perhaps for Rodríguez, like his colleagues, the distinction is a spurious one. What seem like loose texts come together to form a “grammar”, composed as much by life experience —Rodríguez is an active presence at festivals, events, etc.— as by the carefully chosen combinations of symbols —snakes, fog, coffins, clowns, mosquitoes, etc— in the texts themselves.

“The grammar of desires”, a line from one of Rodríguez’s poems, seems to encapsulate his poetic ethos. Desire here sometimes is meant literally for the body, but the build-up of poems also represents Rodríguez’s desire to create an evolving grammar, to connect, to generate sense in his own life and the history of his country, to build up a precarious and temporary defense against ever-threatening violence, to find meaning through the constant production of texts exchanged with others, creating and destroying and creating again.

— Jessica Sequeira

THE GEOGRAPHY OF MUSIC

Do not remain in the snow of dark things. The fish hides in your eyes. Do not permit the step of the devil or the ghosts that circle your bed. Tell them to be silent because it is the time of living words, the geography of music, the grammar of desires. It is the time of philosophy and phosphorescent things, the language of fruits and opened cages. It is the time of the blue insects of our childhoods. It is the time of the alphabet. It is the time of your body setting fire to my country.

ILLNESS

The brilliance of the dispossessed will never be put out, may that be clear once and for all. Illness will be a mistaken bird who sleeps in his death. He wakes and goes back to sleep on the cloud closest to my pupil. Water in the mouth of a dead man. Illness will be snow in a sacred body and the fire that never separates us.

THE NAME OF THINGS

You search for that name and it hides from you
in the order of the dictionary.

Ida Vitale

You search for that name that hides in the dark dictionary and from vulnerable days. You search for that name that tells you the truth and quits the cold from your veins. From those blue veins that cross your whole body like deserted avenues. You search for that name that is hidden in your country and fills you with light.

VIOLENCE

A man is a man thus they steal his entrails, his heart or amputate his foot. A man is a man thus they shave his hair, remove his eye or stop listening. A man is a man thus they commit violence in the street, steal his teeth or cut out his kidney. The man is a man thus it grows dark.

A TOMB

The cold will be a ghost that moves through the caves and the bones of so much unearthed body. You will burn to see her again. You will burn to touch her again and feel that her skin is the skin of all women in the world and that there and only there will be the love that corresponds to you. She is the only one. Love not spoken or pronounced, but the love worth living. You will burn to see her again and perhaps you will never see her again. You will cry over her destroyed tomb.

SHEETS

The shadows lengthen and die like flowers or castaways before the island of your eyes. The ribs of love are the tree where snakes shiver. After love there remains a body empty and destroyed in the sheets. The crime was consummated, do not invent other fears or anxieties. It is true that love dries the hands but it is the air of bodies.

SNOW

Snow wraps round the body resigned to defeat and is the gleam of rain in the thirsty. We have angels sleeping in the body but do not know it. The angels: small ghosts of our past lives. They break the vigil of dream and visit to give us bread and water, but our pupils do not mark the difference between fog and bone. Touch the dream and you will see the angels rest on your temples.

SNAKES OF VOWELS

I cross your veins and howl at your beauty marks of my luck. The letters change place and hands but my eyes move into your eyes, into their reverse into their anguish. Do you see what I see? So many past lives and the dead do not tire of breathing my carbon dioxide. My country is divided. Its men are the snakes of vowels.

COFFINS

Coffin that passes through lanes and streets,
Through day and night with the great cloud darkening the land
Walt Whitman

The coffins pass through lanes and streets, through day and night with the great cloud darkening the land and the city is a human stain in the heart of the port. Living men carry their dead men. Dead men carry their living men. Blood is a past carnival in the veins of this port that refuses to die, to be elegy, yellow branch elusive ghost. The coffins come out of their wakes and pass without cease to the end of civilization: A river of the dead await.

BODIES DO NOT DIE

to Luis Armenta Malpica

Bodies do not die. Only their snake half. Bodies are half forest and half water that hide in the white nipples of day. The eyelids deny it when an animal comes from his blue fog. Bodies do not die. Only their unofficial half. Their eye, their geometry, their petal of air. Fear passes from nerve to nerve and the throat grows anxious when blood comes and expels its other skin, its demented entrails. Bodies do not die. Only their half of Catholic flesh.

WHILE SHE KILLS MOSQUITOES

I write from my hammock
as from a tower
and keep throwing letters
that little by little
transform into mosquitoes
and sting and sting
starving for blood
as she murders them
with her hand or the swatter
but they slip through her ribs
or under her dress
and she shouts and jumps and stamps and cries
she lets out epithets
that little by little
transform into mosquitoes
and sting and sting
starving for blood
while I murder them
with my pen or my thought
but they slip through my eyes
or under my hammock
and I yell and jump and stamp and sleep.

THE POET IS A CIRCUS CLOWN

The poet is a circus clown
without make-up, with his wrinkles, his gray hairs,
his common poverty
the poet laughs a little or a lot depending on
his circles of readers.
Some travel the world reading this poetry
to others it falls to read his poems under
bridges,
on top of trees or in the cages of lions.
In the end the (un)worried reader will stand up to clap
toward the void, the shadows of nothingness,
because one more poet in this world
has been decapitated before spectators.

WILD ANIMALS

She was crazy
I was hardly sane
Taking the rope from her
I bit her artichoke
she gobbled my bones
I loved her,
made love to her
in all possible ways
She swallowed me
then vomited me with fury
I was flesh, saliva and nothing.

I LIVE IN THE COUNTRY OF PAIN

Each day I plunge myself into your incurable illnesses, your irreversible viruses, your renal cramps. I curse the day they stamped my intransferable passport and the immigration police gave me an indefinite extension in this country called pain. In this place every one of us is condemned.

THE PARTY

When I arrived at this party all the guests were already there: the parachutists, the comrades, the sorcerers, the upstarts, the businessmen, the priests, the masochists and the political intriguers. From their respective caves they analyzed the fragments of their lives. Little by little they went about removing their underclothes to the rhythm of music, cocaine and alcohol and thus the movie continued that repeated again and again. It seems it falls to me to put out the moon of the world.

EVERYTHING WILL GO TO WASTE

My heart will burst like a party piñata

of what I once was there will remain nothing
only the vomit of passers-by

drunkenness is the greatest victory
these days

the best poetry is still being written in public bathrooms

such is my nausea
that I will vomit to the woman I love
then eat her up

with a bit of effort but with death
wedged in my throat

TODAY IS AN INFINITE DAY

When the storm passes
the downpour with its defiant knives
all of a sudden the blood calls to us:
remember me.
Today is an infinite day
the air shakes my lungs
this rainbowed afternoon.
Life went with death
to a faraway cabin
to conceive small snakes.
When the last trumpet no longer sounds
fire will cease to be fire
and all that seemed so crystalline
will turn cloudy and rough.
When the truths of our existence
are no longer so real and unique:
remember me.

 

Inicio, La revista, VL English

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