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Wednesday, May 7, 2014


María Victoria Atencia has won the Reina Sofía prize, one of the major ones given to poets of Spain, Portugal, and Latin America. Amazingly, she is first woman from Spain to receive it, and only the fourth woman period:

1992 Gonzalo Rojas
1993 Claudio Rodríguez
1994 João Cabral de Melo Neto
1995 José Hierro
1996 Ángel González
1997 Álvaro Mutis
1998 José Ángel Valente
1999 Mario Benedetti
2000 Pere Gimferrer
2001 Nicanor Parra
2002 José Antonio Muñoz Rojas
2003 Sophia de Mello Breyner
2004 José Manuel Caballero Bonald
2005 Juan Gelman
2006 Antonio Gamoneda
2007 Blanca Varela
2008 Pablo García Baena
2009 José Emilio Pacheco
2010 Francisco Brines
2011 Fina García Marruz
2012 Ernesto Cardenal

We find Chile represented (Rojas, Parra); Brazil (JCMN); Colombia (Mutis); Uruguay (Benedetti); Portugal (Sophia de Mello); Argentina (Gelman); Peru (Varela); Mexico (Pacheco); Cuba (Fina García Marruz); and Nicaragua (Cardenal). It is possible that the list as a whole is less impressive than the work of the five or six poets on the list who really mean something.

Here's a version I did of MVA a while back:

Now that so many hours are shifting to the back
and I forget already their shape and property
I once again feel-- in the flash of wings behind the panes
that begins to undo the darkness of the sky--
as if, with their wings of major poets,
the petrel and the kingfisher had come to let me know
that this thread of life in which I succeed myself
has not changed more than the precise degree necessary.

It is not read for prime time, but I feel it captures some of the tone.

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