Di/Verso. Second Encounter of Poems in Mexico City. Speech by Mexico City’s Secretary of Culture, Eduardo Vázquez Martín
Di/Verso. Second Encounter of Poems in Mexico City. Speech by Mexico City’s Secretary of Culture, Eduardo Vázquez Martín Antiguo Colegio de San Ildefonso Thursday, June 29th 2017
Welcome everyone, be welcome to Simón Bolívar Amphiteatre, the liberator who fought to disappear the frontiers of Latin America, and to this precinct that presides the mural The Creation, by Diego Rivera, welcome to this temple dedicated to the creation. Welcome to the coexistence of the diverse, the bridges between the different, the doors open to the horizons of poetic language.
This afternoon we are joined by the second edition of DiVerso, Encounter of poems in Mexico City under the motto "Overflowing borders", this expression that reveals a certain nature, an intrinsic feature in poetic creation: the poem as a verbal object that knows no limits, even those of the language, because what expresses, counts or reflects, is not subject to geopolitical and cultural limits, is not subject to the narratives of its time, since poetry, as described, in his old age, Octavio Paz: is "the other voice".
In the community of poets, there is often talk about otherness as an experience that makes us aware of the importance of the other. The other not as an abstraction, but as the "other that we are all" —following with Paz—: the other also as a concrete being that reaffirms our existence through his own, whether in empathy, estrangement or review. There is no poet who has not dedicated to the conscience and practice of this concept a few verses or a good part of his work.
Today, while we start the activities of this meeting of diversity, of poetic expression, I want to remind Raúl Renán, whom we dismiss a few weeks ago, an experimental poet, promoter and teacher who in his poem "Steps" observed: Fate in movement / come and go / like looking for labyrinths. / Sometimes I do not know them, / like steps of another, / as other steps. / In a hurry or secretive I know that they flee / because the Earth pursues them. / Where to hide? / The Earth will tread / sooner or later the body of my steps.
The word, in the use made of it in the contemporary world, often suffers from an emptying of its meanings; and stop saying what it corresponds. I do not speak of polysemy or metonymy, but of denial and substitution of meaning. Suddenly the word, in an increasingly common use, says its opposite, is disintegrated, becomes oxymoron. When certain public officials speak of justice, it is that they announce impunity. Other times talk of progress or modernization as a way to announce the dispossession, and that more will be poor and greater the exclusion. War is declared in the name of peace and the most absurd montage, to the most unlikely account of the most tragic and ignominious facts, are called "historical truth."
It is not the first time that the word suffers this sequestration of meaning and in other occasions the poetic saying has been in need of recovering the word from its plagiarists: I think as an example, in the reaction of a fundamental part of poetry Western world against the ideological discourses of the propaganda apparatus of the totalitarian states of the twentieth century.
A meeting of poets and poems, a festival of the poetic word implies, from our point of view, the possibility of rediscovering ourselves with the word, not only in the etymological sense of the dictionary, but also in the one that has to do with the strength of the word as a form of knowledge —even if it’s a dark knowledge—, of revelation of the truth: that puts in crisis the cover-up, the manipulation of the word, which the word suffers in the space of the public and of the political. Faced with the simulation and cynicism involved, the work of the poets implies a different experience of language, a radical form of language resistance, implicit or explicit.
I agree with Juan Domingo Argüelles that Mexican poetry is scattered and diverse: "The second half of the twentieth century and the first half of the twenty-first century —writes the critic in the presentation of the second volume of the General Anthology of Poetry of Today’s Mexico—, have been for Mexican poetry an outburst of voices, forms, registers, themes, vocations, etcetera, and about this speaks a list of (hundreds of) authors, whose living works are in constant boiling, moving and enrichment”. "This 'total dispersion' —says Argüelles, quoting Efraín Huerta—, is more a sign of poetic health than a symptom of the contrary. If something defines the Mexican poetry of the last sixty years —continues Juan Domingo—, is its diversity in substance and form, and in a few cases, its absence of canons”.
If something defines poetry is diverse. It is from diversity that we read our poetry and the one written in other languages and in other geographical boundaries; It is from the scattered and diverse recognition that we organize this encounter; for that reason the curatorship, the selection of tables, authors, guests from Mexico and the world have been carried out in a collaborative and collegial way, including various collectives (where applicable, the grouping of poets around editorial projects, empathies, friendships, affiliations and phobias). That is why we have also included the voices that are manifested as the poets do with their work, in a solitary and individual way.
If we are certain and this is a different moment we live, we can not repeat now the statement of another great muralist, David Alfaro Siqueiros, when in the mid-twentieth century he said: "There is no other route than ours."
Considering the civilizational crisis that we live, it is time to experience all the routes, to learn from each other through inclusion and coexistence. Before the walls that rise to separate the peoples, before the borders of spikes and fire, of blood and mud, before the walls that inequality builds, before the walls we build between us and prevent us from seeing and blind us, Di/Verso proposes to overflow borders, to build bridges, to turn the gaze to the other and, if possible, to sing together.
Throughout these days readers of poetry and poets are invited to travel, to assume the movement that proposes singing, to take those steps that Renán describes: "In a hurry or secretive."
In a lapse of four days, the Academy of San Carlos, this Antiguo Colegio of San Ildefonso, the Library of Mexico, the House of the Poet Ramón López Velarde, the Cultural Center of Spain in Mexico, the Cultural Center Elena Garro, the Center of Digital Culture, La Bota Hosteria, the Museum of the Estanquillo and Radio UNAM, will bring together diverse proposals of the poetic expression of the present and will confirm the importance of the poetry in the present time.
Another space will be the Patio of the Plaza de la Ciudadela, where the Sound Pavilion has been installed with a program in charge of the Society of Writers of Mexico.
We all know that to achieve a meeting of this magnitude requires the sum of efforts, wills and desires of people capable and committed to culture as a public good and a fundamental right.
For this reason, I would like to express my deep gratitude to the following groups, institutions and individuals, whom I want to thank in alphabetical order: Mexican Academy of Poetry, Mexican Association of Writers, to Bertha Cea Echenique, our host today in this house; To Claudia Barattini, Cultural Attaché of the Embassy of Chile in Mexico; Hermann Bellinghausen, Mario Bojórquez, Hernán Bravo Varela, Antonio Calera Grobet, Marco Antonio Campos, the National Chamber of the Mexican Publishing Industry, the Poetry Circle, Rocío Cerón, and José María Espinasa. Luis Felipe Fabre, Tania Favela, Alicia García Bergua, El Golem, David Huerta, Tanya Huntington, Eduardo Langagne, Ernesto Lumbreras, Victor Manuel Mendiola, Eduardo Milán, Jocelyn Pantoja, Josué Ramírez, María Rivera, Pedro Serrano, Universidad Iberoamericana, the National Autonomous University of Mexico, The Word: Poetry Festival, as well as those that will be our headquarters and which I have already mentioned.
I would like to highlight the work of two extraordinary partners: Déborah Chenillo, Coordinator of Community Cultural Liaison, and Marianna Palerm, general coordinator of Di / Verso. Thank them very much.
I am also grateful to the 125 participants of this meeting: 32 from five continents —inhabitants of multiple frontiers that overflow today— and 93 from our country, both from this city and from various states of the Republic.
Colleagues, fellow travelers or not: with their works they contribute to give meaning and precision to the word, to create the necessary bridges, to generate spaces for dialogue and reflection, and demonstrate to us, again and again, that writing and reading always worth it. To all of you, thank you for being here.
In these four days we will put in motion through the word our freedom of expression, our "free speech", with a clear purpose: to overflow the walls that the short minds seeks to lift, to dissolve the edges of the false controversies to find that we are part of the same body, or the material of expressive vitality that leads us to recognize ourselves as equal, without abdicating before any homogenization, without losing our differences, forming part of the diversity, but also of the community.
In this way we will have the opportunity to listen to conversations on specific topics, addressing borders, walls, human traffic, humanitarian crisis and displacement as some of the thematic axes present in our poetry.
Poetry is not alien to political reality, because the poet is situated in the field of analogy and does not pose at the extremes but exercises its right to radicality, where the edges are overflowing and seeks the critical encounter, so that in these days different audiences will be able to witness readings that go beyond the page and beyond what it places.
Octavio Paz spoke of the tradition of the rupture; Contemporary art is born of that contrast, a tradition that for Ezra Pound means something beautiful that we preserve, and rupture, an urgent need for change to renew and strengthen what makes us worthwhile.
This meeting contains all aspects, is a reflection of the diversity that shapes the landscape of culture. We will enjoy the ability of the poets to transmit sensitive knowledge, that is, awareness of the world, its complexity, transparency, what is invisible becomes a verbal image, a metaphor of our time.
Welcome all the poets, voices of the tribe, Mallarmé would say, voices of the tribe, will later Alberto Blanco (who just yesterday received the Xavier Villaurrutia Writers Award, and from here Di / Verso congratulates and embraces him). Voices of the tribe, says Blanco, of "those who have no tribe or belong ... to the tribe of the black sheep / Or to a tribe whose ancestors are from the future: / a tribe to come**.
Thank you all for being here, for crossing your own borders. Welcome.