This text was part of a talk given by Emma VillazÃ³nÂ at the 20th International Feria de Libro in La Paz. The complete Spanish version can be read on the blogÂ Hay Vida en Marte.
Now Iâ€™ll answer the question about the golden age of poetry in Bolivia and contemporary poetry. If byÂ â€œgolden ageâ€Â we mean a time whenÂ manyÂ poets producedÂ greatÂ work, this might be the â€˜30s,Â withÂ Ricardo Jaimes Freyre, Gregorio Reynolds, Franz Tamayo, Arturo Borda, Hilda Mundy, RaÃºl Otero Reiche and Gamaliel Churata. That period seems a fruitful and interesting one, since there was a conjunction between the effervescence of political ideas of the left, avant-garde aesthetics of modernism, and indigenous Andean vein of Churata. Perhaps one could also talk of another interesting period: the decades fromÂ the â€˜50sÂ toÂ the â€˜80s, whenÂ Jaime Saenz, Oscar Cerruto, Edmundo Camargo and Blanca WiethÃ¼chterÂ wrote.
But thinking in terms of a golden age is complicated, because it can introduce nostalgia for a past time better than the present, andÂ encourageÂ the idea each period has its corresponding poet, which createsÂ rivalriesÂ between the old and the new. In our case for example, some readers prefer Ricardo Jaimes Freyre and reject Saenz,Â or the opposite,Â consideringÂ Saenz a great poet and thereforeÂ rejectingÂ modernist poetry. It can also happenÂ that some poets,Â withÂ a self-defensive attitude regarding their own work, propose killing predecessors like Saenz. But are these battles authentic? Iâ€™ll respond with what Marina Tsvetaeva said about the rivalryÂ between old PushkinÂ and modern Mayakovsky:
The statement â€˜I love poetry but not contemporary poetryâ€™Â and its oppositeÂ â€˜I love poetry but only contemporary poetryâ€™Â are equivalent, thatâ€™s to say, worth little or nothing. No one (â€¦) who loves poetry would talk like this, no one who truly loves poetry would destroy the authentic works of yesterdayÂ â€”Â and foreverÂ â€”Â to benefit whatâ€™s authentic today (â€¦). Whoever loves only one thing doesnâ€™t love anything. Pushkin and Maiakovsky wouldâ€™veÂ been friends, in reality were never in conflict.Â The inferior are hostile to one another, the summitsÂ â€”Â always in agreement.Â â€˜Beneath the heavens thereâ€™s enough room for allâ€™ â€”Â the mountains knowÂ thisÂ better than anyone.
As for the poetry written today in Bolivia, thereâ€™s been an increase in poetry readings, which didnâ€™t exist a few years ago. In La Paz I know of theÂ â€œEscÃ¡ndalo en tu barcaâ€Â seriesÂ organized by Adriana Lanza, in Cochabamba, the ones at CafÃ© Kafka, and in Santa Cruz those organized at La Calleja and the Feria del Libro. In Cochabamba, the publishers GÃ©nero Aburrido and Yerba Mala Cartonera publish poetry, and the Chilean poet Juan MalebrÃ¡n has directedÂ a workshopÂ for years, a great motivation for many young people. Thereâ€™s no doubt this increase in public readings is positive; sharing poetry in public is necessary and will always be welcome.