Sunday, 20 September 2009

Luis Garcia Montero, traditions that converge

Luis Garcia Montero is a terrific poet and a real force in contemporary Spanish poetry.

One of the most accessible poets to be writing in Spain, his work fuses the Generacion del 27, e.g. Salinas, Lorca, Cernuda, with the influence of Jaime Gil de Biedma. This means his realist poetry is also unafraid of the lyric and the esoteric. Politics, meanwhile, play a key role in his work: Garcia Montero forms part of a generation who lived through Spain's intense transition to democracy while they were students.

The above-mentioned combination brings about a poetry that captivates, drawing the reader in, working at umpteen levels. Gacria Montero might have brought together something of a group around him in Granada (poets such as Javier Egea and Alvaro Salvador), but there isn't a school as such - his voice is inimitable. I do enjoy his erotic work and political pieces, but perhaps he's at his best when writing about his daughter, Irene, as in the following snippet:

cobran todas las cosas
un impreciso afan por empezar de nuevo"

"with you
everything takes on
an imprecise urge to begin again"

Garcia Montero is unusual among the current crop of Spanish poets. I do feel he deserves further exposure to a U.K. readership, although the translation would have to be extremely nuanced so as to preserve the converging of traditions that textures his work.

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