Monday, 2 February 2015

Good poetry...?

When I browse repetitive threads on Facebook that jostle and strut along with varying definitions of "good poetry", I'm reminded that taste is not just fickle. It's everything. Just as Helena Nelson evoked the decline in popularity of a once-renowned poet in her blog post last weekend, so I'm drawn to compare successful and unsuccessful verse in different countries: Spain and the U.K..

Perhaps my favourite contemporary Spanish poet is Jordi Virallonga. His book, Crónicas de Usura, is jaw-droppingly good. His readings of two of the best pieces from that collection - "Los Ahorros" and "Mira Padre" - are on You Tube, yet their viewing figures barely reach double figures. And most of those views are mine!

Virallonga is not a famous poet in Spain: his poetry is not in vogue. For me, through the filter of my particular tastes, he's exceptional. What's more, his reading style heightens the concentrated intimacy of his work. Why not have a listen to "Mira Padre" (thus also brushing up on your Spanish!) and make your own mind up...?


  1. Have you thought about attempting some translations, to bring him to a monoglot anglophone culture?

    1. Hi Henry,

      Thanks for commenting.

      Other writers may thrive on translations, but I find they frustrate me and drain me of creativity. I can't get away from the feeling that Virallonga in English would sound just as naff as Larkin does in Spanish.

      Best wishes,


  2. Dear Matthew

    I haven't read much poetry in Spanish since Borges and Lorca so thank you for drawing my attention to Virallonga.

    Best wishes from Simon R. Gladdish