By Liliana Colanzi
Translated from Spanish by Jessica Sequeira
â€˜Shadow notebookâ€™Â was the first book published byÂ El Cuervo, one of the most interesting independent editorial projects in Latin America at the moment.Â Its appearance couldn’t have been luckier or better-timed.Â The editor, Fernando Barrientos, was so dazzled byÂ Julio Barriga’sÂ book ofÂ poems he felt the need to create a publishing house to see the verses in print. He didnâ€™t think about how to finance the book, about distribution or earningsÂ â€”Â in Bolivia the profession of editor has something suicidal and romantic about itÂ â€”Â but rather about the urgency of sharing the lethalÂ words of thisÂ â€œcrazy boy prematurely aged in dissolution and disillusionâ€.
Barriga writes from atrocityÂ and the abyss, from unending night as he dances with his demons. Where does such devastationÂ come from, he makes one ask, as if an answer existed. How does one end up with his gaze fixed on the abyss? And above all, how does one survive theÂ gaze of that destructive Eye with Barriga’s astonishing lucidity? The poet has a gorgeous stoicism, a declaration of principles he reveals in his versesÂ â€œwhen there is nothing but the flightÂ of the fall / one learns the music of the windâ€. Barriga reminds us that poetry is dangerous and that one must live with courage. That we are hopelesslyÂ alone and lost and the only possible answer is to cultivate the ethic of solitude, and learn how to be elegant in hell:Â â€œI read feeling my way forward, like a blind man / a painting that looks exactly like / what you wanted to express: / my home has always been bleakness. / We are such strange people / corroded by the memory of beauty.â€
Liliana ColanziÂ is the author ofÂ â€˜vacaciones permanentesâ€™Â andÂ â€˜la olaâ€™. This year Dalkey Archive Press will publish an English translation of her work.Â
Jessica SequeiraÂ is a writer and translator living in BuenosÂ Aires.Â