ADSactly Poetry: The Poetry Between The Air And The Voice (Part I)


The poet Enriqueta Arvelo Larriva (charcoal portrait by Alfredo Rodriguez) Source

Approaching the understanding of poetry is a task that is doubly compromising and risky, since it involves an "experience of limits" in two senses: touching the limits of poetry, that is, experiencing its abysses, its depths; and touching our limits as readers. We have intuited and felt that this is particularly true of the poetry of the Venezuelan writer Enriqueta Arvelo Larriva.

Roberto Juarroz, also a poet of depth, has wisely expressed, challenging the most generalized point of view: "(...) for creation there is no other access than recreation, which is another form of creation (...) There is only one way to enter into poetry: to be inside". This is what we would like to achieve in our approach to this poetry, responding to the 'invitation' to accept its images, the material of its poetic imagination and its possible symbols, relying, at the same time, on the vision provided by the philosopher Gaston Bachelard, so close to a poetics of existence.

One of the editions of Enriqueta Arvelo's poetic work Source

Saying poetic, thinking deep

The encounter with the poetry of Enriqueta Arvelo Larriva can only be, as with all high poetry, a poetic experience. An inner experience of openness and intensity, by which the experience contained and expressed in the poem is relived, re-created and transformed. René Ménard understands the poetic experience as "a kind of temporary but total symbiosis between the spirit and something that has emerged from the experience of the world". In fact, he works in reading Enriqueta Arvelo's production that symbiotic state between a vital temperament and a verbal configuration of the world, present in her poetry, on the one hand, and the revelation in us of a spirit consubstantiated with that experience of life and word, on the other.

Two indestructible dimensions make poetry, like no other manifestation of the spirit, word and life. We are confronted with them when we read Enriqueta Arvelo. The reading of her poetry, like her work itself, is a verbal and vital experience; a concentrated and essential experience.

Her work is voice, as she herself recognized: "... voice is the only thing I have had", and it is "voice of the foundations" that "will only be given to one ear of the foundations", also in the words of Juarroz (idem.). To read his poetry is to place ourselves at the listening of a depth, of a suspended background and rooted in the word; to experience the tension/attention of a rational being that is said and heard in writing: to be intimate, to be written.

Woman with a blanket (1936), by Armando Reverón Source

It could not happen otherwise in the face of a poetic saying that is worked "in obedience to a vigilant interiority", in the expression of Alfredo Silva Estrada. Interiority that thinks about the word and gives us its abysmal truth in a stripped and serene writing. We dialogue within ourselves with an inner and "essential experience of a shaken world", as the writer says in her poem "Emotion and the advantage of proven depth".

Poetry presupposes a complex relationship between reality and word, between form and substance, and this relationship involves thinking, the meaning that is created. In that order, we share Juarroz' definition: "That capacity of man to create reality based on his interpretation by means of symbols is what I call thinking". Taking advantage of this vision we can approach what Enriqueta Arvelo pointed out in her letter to the critic Julián Padrón, where she expressed the need to find a "music" - formal search - that would be capable of "weighing down (his) thought". In those contained words we believe to identify the conscience and force of the unitive relation between poetry and thinking in the work of this author.

Certainly, his poetry configures the path of a deep and greater thinking, that which Juarroz designated as "the integrating and ultimate thinking, the thinking that feels, the thinking that creates, the transfiguring verb, the opening of the bottom". The thinking of the present depth "behind things, within things", in the writer's expression; the "inner space of the world" of Rilke, which, through Blanchot, we know is a metamorphosis of the visible into the invisible, of the exterior into the interior, by and in the word, which "makes the name a silent reality". It is, therefore, a meditation on the essential in a dialectic of the inside and the outside, and in which the being is founded by the intimacy of the word. It is this "inescapable thinking" (Bachmann) that we intend to glimpse here.


Imaginative consciousness and material imagination

Bachelard, in his study of the imaginative psychism, argues that imagination "forms the temporal fabric of spirituality. It proceeds as an active force that renews the heart and soul, that vitalizes and energizes the spirit thanks to its mobile associations and conversions. But it is the literary imagination, in particular, that leads to spiritual mobility, because of its characteristic impulse to aspire to new images. Bachelard says: "Thought, when expressed in a new image, is enriched by enriching the language. Being becomes word. The word appears at the psychic summit of being".

In this imaginative dynamic, a continuous and reciprocal journey from the real to the imaginary takes place. That is to say, the imaginary is present and is formed within the real as one of its dimensions, but on becoming dynamic it transfigures the real into a beyond, a projection of its being into another. Such a relationship supposes what Bachelard calls "sympathy towards a matter".

According to this author, "we are led, in the imaginary search, by fundamental matters", which he identifies with the four primordial elements: fire, water, earth and air. The creative imagination, according to this conception, is guided and determined by the predominance of one of these elements, through which matter will be thought, lived, dreamed; through this identification the imaginary is materialized, and this "intimacy of the real, can agitate our intimate being".

When reading and studying the poetic work of Enriqueta Arvelo Larriva, we experience the comprehensive and repeated manifestation of a reality that is fundamentally made up of matter and the presence of nature, in particular the natural environment of the plain, the space in which she was born and remained for most of her life. It is a world of things created from the referential elements that make up the real essence of that universe: figurations of the terrestrial vegetable (tree, branch, leaf, flower, root, seed, grass, savannah...), mineral (soil, sand, stone, dust...) and animal (snake, horse, deer, tiger...). ); existences of the aquatic (river, rain, dew, well, foam, sea, fish...) and of the aerial (bird, sky, star, cloud, fog, aroma, music...); appearances of the igneous (flame, fire, ashes, sun, drought...); bodily presences (eyes, heart, thirst, sweat...), environmental and temporal (light, shadow, night, vigil, day, dawn, evening...).

Such elements will be transfigured by the writer's consciousness and imaginative word, in order to materialize her interiority.


Bibliographical references

Arvelo Larriva, Enriqueta (1976). Poetic Anthology. Venezuela: Monte Ávila Editores.
Bachelard, Gaston (1982a). The air and the dreams. Mexico: Fondo de Cultura Económica.
Bachelard, Gaston (1982b). The poetics of dreaming Mexico: Fondo de Cultura Económica.
Bachmann,Ingeborg (1990). Problems of contemporary literature. Spain: Edit. Tecnos.
Blanchot, Maurice (1969). The literary space. Argentina: Paidós Publishers.
Juarroz, Roberto (1980). Poetry and Creation. Argentina: Ediciones Carlos Lohlé.
Menard, René (1971). The Poetic Experience. Venezuela: Monte Ávila Editores.
Silva Estrada, Alfredo (1989). The transmuted word. Venezuela: Ediciones Contraloría General de la República.

Written by @josemalavem

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Thank You


What a good job, @josemalavem! Enriqueta Arvelo Larriva is one of the founding writers of Venezuelan poetry by women. As you mentioned in that last paragraph, one of the things that call the attention of her work is the description and identification of nature with the lyrical speaker, which can allow us to visualize not only the immediate environment of the poetic voice, but also, as you point out, its interiority. Thank you for this tribute!


Thank you for your visit and appropriate commentary, @nancybriti. If it makes sense to continue publishing, if there is no abuser who disrespects the value of my work, I will continue with the next part.