Posts under tag: Jesus Sepulveda
Homage to Nicanor Parra: Poetry Readings by Jesús Sepúlveda, from Cartagena to Santiago and Wallmapu
RL Spanish Creative Writing Instructor Jesús Sepúlveda did not have a chance to say goodbye to his mentor Nicanor Parra who just passed away on January 23, but his legacy was very much present when Sepúlveda gave a poetry reading at the Sociedad de Escritores de Chile (SECH) in Santiago, Chile on December 21, 2017. Organized and led by SECH president Carmen Berenguer, the reading began with five contemporary Chilean poets, then featured Sepúlveda’s forthcoming poetry collection, Espejo de los detalles, coming out in fall 2018 with Cuarto Propio. In her introduction, Carmen Berenguer drew the arc of Sepúlveda’s poetic evolution from his first collection, Lugar de origen (1987), which began the lifelong friendship with Parra, to the current volume. The reading was particularly moving and a great honor for Sepúlveda, whose last reading at the SECH dated from 1988, the year of the Chilean national plebiscite that marked the end of the dictatorship.
Sepúlveda also visited a coastal Mapuche community or lafkenche, in Wallmapu on the shore of Lago Budi, some 500 miles south of Santiago. As the largest saltwater lake in South America, the site boasts a rich ecosystem and deep cultural and agricultural practices. He shared his poems during a trawün (assembly) that took place inside a ruka, the traditional thatched dwelling. The community listened without applauding, sometimes commenting between poems. At the very end, an enthusiastic afafán resonated—the traditional vocal crescendo of approval. The head of the community (el werkén del lof) shared two sung poems or ül in Mapudungun. The trip also included visits to the community-run school; a greenhouse propagating native plants; an organic farm; and a women-run handicraft workshop. The visit took place under the auspices of Maple, a micro-development organization based in Eugene, whose Chilean delegates (Viviana Calfuqueo Canuinir, Fernando Quilaqueo, UO alumnus Ignacio A Krell, and Alison Guzman) came to the UO in fall 2017.
Prior to his visit to his native Santiago, Sepúlveda was invited to the 21st International Poetry Festival of Cartagena, Colombia, on December 1-4, 2017. Festival organizer Martín Salas brought the participants to a wonderful array of venues and in front of receptive audiences across the city: Sepúlveda and fellow poets from Spain and Uruguay read to the faculty and students/performers of a philharmonic orchestra in a suburban high school, the Escuela de Música de Comfenalco; they, in turn, gave a spirited and memorable performance of Duke Ellington’s greatest hits. The following morning, readings took place in the library of the Universidad de Cartagena. Next came “transpoesía:” during rush hour the travelling poets read in a crowded commuter bus to the surprise and amusement of passengers. The closing grand gala took place in the historic Teatro Adolfo Mejía.
Back in the classroom, Sepúlveda shares with his UO students a practice of writing (academic and creative Spanish) rooted in these poetic experiences and encounters, often tapping his network of international fellow poets for skype sessions or to recount personal memories. This quarter, Nicanor Para passed away the very day that his poems had been assigned reading in SPAN 410 and SPAN 311.
Jesús Sepúlveda reads from his most recent poetry book Espejo de detalles. November 21, 4:30-6:00 – Mills International Lounge (EMU).
Jesús Sepúlveda Travels to Cambodia to participate in Sylt Foundation’s program “Transformation and Identity, Trauma and Reconciliation”
For several years now the Sylt Foundation and its curator, Indra Wussow, have fostered a dialogue that breaks national borders between artists dealing with “Transformation and Identity, Trauma and Reconciliation” in their work, probing the legacies of Germany’s Fascism, South Africa’s Apartheid, Chile and Myanmar’s dictatorship, and Cambodia’s Khmer Rouge regime. Following a Sylt Foundation residency in South Africa in December 2017, Chilean poet and RL instructor Jesús Sepúlveda was invited to Cambodia from August 3-17, 2017 to meet with fellow poets and authors from Cambodia, Germany, and Myanmar, and numerous cultural agents invested in Cambodia’s past, present and future. Indra Wussow and co-curator Irene Leung organized a rich array of encounters: there was a dinner roundtable with choreographer and dancer Sophiline Cheam Shapiro who collaborated with oral historian Theresa den Langis and trauma psychologist Sylvia Johnson to create a ballet performance on forced marriages—one of the legacies of Pol Pot’s regime; there was a brunch and later an art opening with Java Arts’ gallery owner Dana Langlois focused on supporting emerging Cambodian visual artists and designers; a discussion with Cambodian curator Lyno Vuth and young artists in a newly created artist-run space, Sa Sa Art Projects. With German author Sasha Rey and Burmese poet Diu Ga Lay, Sepúlveda also participated in a translation workshop with aspiring Cambodian poets, exchanging poems and crafting translations into English and/or Khmer that culminated in a public, multilingual poetry reading at Meta House, the German Cambodian Cultural Center, sponsored by the Goethe Institute.
The group also attended the screening of Cambodia Son in a community theater. The 2014 documentary by Masashiro Sugano relates the odyssey of Kosal Khiev, now 37 years old, born in a refugee camp in Cambodia, exiled as a one-year old to California with his mother and siblings, falling into delinquency and jailed at 16 for the next 14 years; and deported to Cambodia, permanently banished from the USA. Kosal, who has become a spoken word artist, took questions from the audience, shared memories and hopes, performed his texts, and joined the Sylt Foundation fellows for dinner.
Another unforgettable encounter took place with Youk Chhang, founder and director of the Documentation Center of Cambodia (or DC-Cam). Himself a survivor, a refugee in the USA, and now a philanthropist and human rights advocate, he has a mission to document and educate about Khmer Rouges atrocities, bring justice to the victims, and heal with the curative powers of art and beauty. In addition to his archival research, Mr. Chhang commissioned late Lebanese celebrated architect Dame Zaha Hadid to design an exceptional building named the Sleuk Rith Institute that will serve as an archive, a museum, and a graduate research center for trauma studies in the heart of the Cambodian capital. The fellows toured the Documentation Center, observed the busy team of interns digitizing documents and testimonies, and the work of videographers, then visited the nearby Wat Langka temple to marvel at the funerary urns hidden from the Khmer Rouge and rediscovered by accident by Mr. Chhang. Across the boulevard, Cambodia’s main teacher’s college, the National Institute of Education, boasts an art gallery. As a parting gift to the group, Mr. Chhang gave everyone the Teacher’s Guidebook to the teaching of “a history of Democratic Kampuchea (1975-1979)” published by DC-Cam along with a textbook printed in the hundreds of thousands and distributed to all students in grade 9-12 (Kampuchea was the name of the Khmer Rouge state). “Genocide education is genocide prevention,” says the back cover.
Sepúlveda also delved into Cambodia’s contrasted history with an emotional visit to the Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum (a high school converted into a torture center by the Khmer Rouge), a tour of the Royal Palace, and excursions near the city of Siem Reap to the famed temples of Angkor Wat, Angkor Thom, Bantey Srei, and Preah Khan.
Grateful thanks go to the Sylt Foundation’s generosity and vision in making possible an essential cross-cultural, international dialogue among the arts on responding to trauma, on identity formation and transformation.
Eleven days after the FARC (the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia) laid down their arms, the International Festival of Poetry in Medellín began its 27th version, celebrating world peace and reconciliation in Colombia.
If Medellín was associated with Pablo Escobar and the drug cartels in the early 1990’s, today it has become the capital of poetry.
From July 8th to 15th, 2017, an international community of poets met in Medellín to celebrate poetry and peace through the slogan “construyendo el país soñado” and explore possible articulations to link poetry to the peace-making process.
Chilean poet and RL instructor Jesús Sepúlveda was invited to participate with more than 100 other selected international and Colombian poets to read poetry in public. Readings were also held in Bogotá and in other locations in the country, including the so-called “normalization zones” near temporary guerrilla camps where former fighters transition into civil life.
Each day poets shared their poetry in public spaces—local libraries in underprivileged neighborhoods, countercultural theaters, universities, public plazas, and many cultural buildings.
This year was symbolic because of the recent peace agreement, but also particularly difficult because of political conflicts, which led some important institutions to withdraw their support from the festival. As the founder and director of the festival poet Fernando Rendón put it, the cultural functionaries feel they own the public budget, therefore:
“Aunque la guerra haya terminado, se mantiene la escala de tropas y armamentos, y el mal gusto por la áspera dominación y la cultura de la fuerza; se menoscaba aún más el presupuesto de la cultura; se interceptan los fondos de las agencias de cooperación que engrosan los presupuestos ministeriales; se imponen nuevos tributos y requisitos a las actividades culturales; se privatizan espacios tradicionales para el arte; se restringe al máximo el uso del espacio “público”; se hace inaccesible el costo de los libros y otros productos culturales; se incumplen compromisos con sectores avanzados del teatro nacional; se imponen a los actores culturales las mismas normas contables que a las empresas trasnacionales; se retienen aportes vitales para desarrollar procesos en los tiempos puntuales; se maltrata a los creadores y gestores.”
In spite of these difficulties, the festival was able to assemble poets, musicians and the public in an exceptional and peaceful symbiosis that makes this festival one of the most important poetry events around the world.
Poets also led literary workshops on current issues. Jesús Sepúlveda delivered a talk on poetry and utopia called “Jardines para la paz” at the Corporación Ecológica y Cultural Penca de Sábila. At the end of this workshop, participants wrote their own creative pieces. The following day a reading was organized at the Palacio de Bellas Artes where poets Samuel Bossini and Graciela Maturo from Argentina and Jesús Sepúlveda read together with some participants from different workshops that took place during the week in the context of the “Escuela de Poesía del Festival” directed by poet Jairo Guzmán.
The closing ceremony of the festival was a collective reading where many poets, including Sepúlveda, read their work in front of a multitude that gathered at the Parque de los Deseos. The crowd’s enthusiastic cheers and applause were an uplifting confirmation of the powers of poetry to embrace peace and unity in a country submerged in armed conflict for the last 53 years.
Jesús Sepúlveda adds: “I can only express my gratitude for the warm welcome and dedication of Fernando and Luis Eduardo Rendón, Gloria y Natalia, and all organizers for the smooth organization led by a team of presenters, interpreters, and translators, and for the energizing spirit of Colombia. Language transformed into poetry and poetry transformed into peace are the keys of this festival whose creative resonance is a crucial experience for poets in all languages. ¡Viva el Festival Internacional de Poesía de Medellín!”
[For more information about the “Festival Internacional de Poesía de Medellín,” click here: https://www.festivaldepoesiademedellin.org/es/Intro/index.htm]
Brown Walker Press just published Poets on the Edge: Vicente Huidobro, César Vallejo, Juan Luis Martínez, and Néstor Perlongher by Senior instructor Jesús Sepúlveda in a 200-page edition on January 2016 with cover art by Chilean artist Ivo Vergara.
Poets on the Edge critically explores the relationship between poetry and its context through the work of four Latin American poets: Chilean Vicente Huidobro (1898-1948), Peruvian César Vallejo (1893-1938), Chilean Juan Luis Martínez (1943-1993), and Argentine Néstor Perlongher (1949-1992). While Huidobro and Vallejo establish their poetics on the edge in the context of worldwide conflagrations and the emergence of the historical avant-garde during the first half of the twentieth century, Martínez and Perlongher produce their work in the context of the Chilean and Argentine dictatorships respectively, developing different strategies to overcome the panoptic societies of control installed throughout the 1970’s and 1980’s. Martínez recreates the avant-garde tradition in a playful manner to avoid censorship and also proposes a philosophical poetics to stage a utopian project oriented toward redesigning the house of civilization that has fallen apart. Perlongher unfolds his peculiar Neobaroque sensitivity in order to reshape the complex Latin American identities, culminating his poetic project with two collections written under the influence of ayahuasca-based ceremonies. Poets on the Edge offers the reader a new understanding of the hybrid and edgy nature of Latin American poetics and subjectivity as well as of the evolution of poetry written in Spanish during the twentieth century.
The book is available at the UO bookstore, Amazon, as well as at the publishing house website. Stay tuned for a book party!
For more information, see http://www.brownwalker.com/book/1627345760
Between November 26th and December 1st 2015, ten poets were invited to participate in the Tabanan International Poetry Festival in Bali, Indonesia. Poet and Senior Instructor of Spanish Composition, Creative Writing and Poetry, Jesús Sepúlveda, was one of them. During the festival poets from four continents met and discussed issues related to poetry and their distinctive poetic traditions while performing poetry readings in their original languages with simultaneous translation into Indonesian for a Balinese audience composed of community members, students, poets, and occasional passers-by.
The Grand Opening of the event consisted in a procession through the streets of Denpasar—Bali’s capital—where poets paraded, carrying a banner with the pictures of all poets. A band that played Gamelan Balinese traditional music accompanied the poets while police stopped traffic and escorted the group of poets and musicians to the main stage. People assembled on sidewalks cheering the poets while giant posters announcing the festival were hanging from buildings and homes. At the end of the day, German poet Michael Augustin wrote: “poetry can stop cars!”
Sepúlveda had the opportunity to meet renowned Javanese poet and feminist scholar, Toedi Heraty, who invited the group to celebrate her 82th birthday at one of her beautiful homes. He also met the national Balinese poet and shaman, Samar Gantang, whose epic poems are rooted in Balinese culture and are performed with Gamelan music and masked dancers interpreting the different characters and scenes of the poems. This style of performative poetry is already a poetic school in Bali and Samar Gantang’s reputation is vibrant and emulated by Balinese youth.
Another highlight of the week was the poetry readings at the 16th century Tanah Lot Temple in the Wantilan area. Once there, and before the reading and the spectacular sunset over the Indian Ocean, poets were asked to sign their names on separate plaques, so they could be engraved in a holy rock placed in the garden of the Hindu temple. Organizers and authorities envisioned this tribute as an opportunity for future visitors to admire the calligraphy of poet’s signatures melted into the beauty of the landscape and the sacred atmosphere of the place.
During the festival poets also visited schools, experienced Balinese culture and cuisine, and trekked the rice paddies of beautiful, utopian, and green land surrounding Jatiluwih village in the plateau of Watukaru Mount—one of the most iconic and traditional areas in Bali. In this excursion, poets learned about the ecologically sustainable irrigation system of canals and weirs called Subak that dates back to the 9th century while drinking red rice tea and eating fresh fruit from the organic gardens.
Poets also taught and learned from each other, expanding their expertise and poetic craft while creating an international network of poetry. Malaysian poet Muhammad Salleh shared with his fellow poets the tradition of Pantun—a Malay literary form from 15th century—while Indian poet Sujata Bhatt read her intimate poetry about her displacements and reminiscences of her mother tongue. Mozambique-born poet and professor Lucas Mkuti presented an anthology of poetry from around the world Sweep of the Violin, whose title comes from a poem by Javanese poet and festival organizer, Dorothea Rosa Herliany. The whole group traveled throughout the island in a van driven “Balinese style,” visiting cultural sites and talking in Balinese, Indonesian, Malay, English, German, French, Portuguese, Italian, and Spanish.
On the last night, five poets read their work at the main Tabanan plaza, Alit Saputra, in front of 15,000 people in the context of the city’s celebration of its 522 years. South African poet Vonani Bila, German poet Bastian Boettcher, French poet Aurélia Lassaque, Balinese poet Samar Gantang, and Chilean poet Jesús Sepúlveda read their poetry on the main stage, while a giant screen showed their readings to the public and the cameras televised the event live on Indonesian national TV. This was certainly a climactic ending to the festival, which remained in the national and local news even days after poets returned home.
For more information, see tabananpoetry.com or google Tabanan International Poetry Festival.
Jesús Sepúlveda presented his latest book of poetry, entitled Secoya at the New York Public Library on June 22, 2015.
About fifty people gathered on a Monday evening to hear poetry in Spanish at the Fifth Avenue landmark building. The event, called “Noche vestida de versos,” was a poetry reading organized by Sudaquia Editores and the New York Public Library. Along with Sepúlveda, poets Enrique Winter, Raquel Adend van Dalen, and Juan Luis Landaeta also read their works.
Sepúlveda’s Secoya was recently published by Sudaquia Editores—a publishing house based in the US, which is breaking ground by publishing contemporary authors in Spanish. A lively discussion and book signing followed the reading.
The colonial city of Granada in Nicaragua just celebrated its XI International Festival of Poetry from February 15 to 21, 2015. Chilean poet and RL senior instructor, Jesús Sepúlveda, was invited to participate, alongside 120 other poets from over 50 countries. This was an extraordinary week of multilingual poetry readings and festivities. Sepúlveda read selected poems from his recent anthology, Poemas de un Bárbaro, on the main stage Plaza de la Independencia on Tuesday evening in front of an audience of thousands. On Thursday, Sepúlveda and five other international poets from Brazil, China, Belgium, the Philippines, and Germany were invited to visit the city of León where they read in the house (now a museum) of national poet Rubén Darío. The readings were transmitted on TV and made the front pages of the papers. Every night, poetry readings were followed by events celebrating Nicaragua’s artistic culture: craft fairs, folkloric dances, classical and popular musical concerts.
Another highlight was Wednesday’s colorful carnival dedicated to peace and to putting an end to violence against women. A float with a stage stopped at various corners of the city and selected poets read to the crowd of revelers. High school students in white and blue uniforms ran from poet to poet for autographs. The festival took place in the midst of a controversy about the wisdom of building a canal linking the Atlantic and the Pacific through Nicaragua’s jungle and its huge fresh water lake. The festival remains neutral but renowned 90 year-old Nicaragua’s poet and artist Ernesto Cardenal voiced his opposition by unfolding a map of the country and reading poems celebrating the beauty and fragility of Lake Nicaragua’s unique ecosystem and its archipelago of islands. Poets were treated to a day-long excursion on one of these “isletas,” the gorgeous Isla Ceiba, also known as the “Island of Poets”.
Granada estimates the festival draws around 50,000 tourists. The beauty of this historical city founded in 1524, the enthusiasm of the public, the unforgettable welcome of dozens of volunteer college students, the generosity of the organizing committee, and the friendship struck among poets made the festival an exhilarating and moving experience. In gratitude, Sepúlveda donated his book to Granada’s public library, housed in the convent San Francisco where Bartolomé de las Casas stayed in 1536 and which is now home to pre-Columbian sculptures and art. Sepúlveda comments:
This festival is a unique celebration of poetry in the continent. It isn’t just a great event because of its magnitude but because of its impact in society. For seven days poetry was the protagonist of social and private life—it was in the news, on the streets, in the virtual world, and at home. I personally met and talked with poets from all over the world: Europe, Australia, the Middle East, India, Nepal, Taiwan as well as from the US and Latin America. Reading along with Nicaraguan poet Gioconda Belli and Argentine poet Jorge Ariel Madrazo was an honor for me. However, the most remarkable thing was to read my poetry in front of almost three thousand people who sat and listened to each line attentively while two big screens transmitted the reading for the distant audience. That was an experience I will never forget. But I will never forget either that Nicaragua—one of the poorest county in the American continent—is so generous and welcoming. People of Nicaragua love poetry and honor poets like anywhere else. And that’s an example that industrialized societies need to consider if we want to live in a more humane and genuine world.
See press coverage at http://www.elnuevodiario.com.ni/nacionales/342133-leon-recibe-poetas-mundo/ and http://www.laprensa.com.ni/2015/02/17/cultura/1784200-autoridades-de-leon-declararan-visitantes-distinguidos-a-poetas
For information on the 2015 festival see http://www.festivalpoesianicaragua.com/
The most recent collection of poetry by Jesús Sepúlveda, Poemas de un bárbaro (December, 2013), was reviewed in Revista de Libros of El Mercurio—the most important newspaper in Chile. Jessica Atal reviews this anthology of selected poems, suggesting that the collection is a “truly existential journey through original images, installing Sepúlveda as one of the most prominent voices of current Chilean poetry.” The review was published on Sunday, April 13, 2014 under the title “El pensamiento vivo de Jesús Sepúlveda” and it can be read in the section Noticias (news) of the publishing-house’s website (www.contragolpe-ediciones.cl) [alternative link].
Senior Instructor Jesús Sepúlveda traveled to his native Chile in December to present his most recent book of poetry, Poemas de un bárbaro (Santiago de Chile: Contragolpe Ediciones, 2013)—a 261-page anthology of his selected poems that covers almost 30 years of writing. He toured Santiago, Valparaíso, and La Serena to do poetry readings and talk to writers and the general public. He also presented his new book of aphorisms, Antiegótico (Viña del Mar: Nihil Obstat, 2013), and the reprint of the Chilean edition of his eco-anarchist essay El jardín de las peculiarides (Olmué: Nihil Obstat, 2011)—the second French edition of this essay was also reprinted last year in Paris by Aux Forges du Vulcain.
In January, he delivered a paper “El rito del viaje: Artaud y los tarahumaras” during the “VII International and Interdisciplinary Conference Alexander von Humboldt, Claudio Gay, and Ignacio Domeyko” at the University of Chile, where many scholars from the US, Latin America, and Europe participated. This paper is part of a larger project called Intoxicated Texts.