José Luis Regojo introducing Fired! in Barcelona

Poémame Magazine: Mujeres poetas irlandesas: Crónica de la lectura poética organizada por Poémame en Barcelona (18/enero/2018): (Read José Luis Regojo’s lecture here)


This is a translated article comprising José Luis Regojo’s introduction to Fired!  It notes the inherent sexism of the Spanish greats. Thanks to Dick Edelstein for the translation and for the Public Dropbox Link.

Public Dropbox link

Fired! at Café de las Delicias These files include ‘The North Wind’ (Geraldine Plunkett Dillon) as well as ‘Now I am a Tower of Darkness and ‘The Welcome’ (Freda Laughton) read by Inés Caravia. Also included: Intro to the session (José Luis Regojo) –A Commentary on Machismo in Spanish Poetry (Sp)+ additional commentary by Rafa Aranda (Sp).

Barcelona Poetry Reading Supporting the Irish Fired! Campaign

Poems of Tomorrow and Yesterday

Text of José Luis Regojo’s introduction to Fired !, english translation, Dick Edelstein.

The initial idea for this poetry reading arose while Ann King, Dick Edelstein, Concha Catalán and myself were having a beer, and it has ended up becoming a platform to give voice to an Irish campaign called  Fired! Irish Women Poets and the Canon.
Fired! represents a call to reduce and eliminate the gender imbalance in Irish poetry circles, and we here particularly want to be a part of an international echo in response. Recent events were detonated by the Cambridge University Press publication of The Cambridge Companion to Irish Poets (2017). That was just the tip of the iceberg, a sad indicator of a much harsher reality. This book, presented as the Bible of Irish poetry, makes women poets invisible in Ireland or portrays them as a mere sideshow supporting the reigning male poets of the moment. Even worse, if such a thing were possible, during the preparation of this book, no one questioned the gender gap— neither editors nor writers: no one.
For those individuals, unfortunately, there were no Irish women poets in the eighteenth, nineteenth or early twentieth centuries. And we hardly need mention working class women poets, they simply do not count. Thus, the Fired! manifesto calls on everyone in the spheres of literature and publishing to make a commitment to balancing this gender mismatch in Irish literature. The absence of women in anthologies, research and other areas related to literature alters history, distorting the way we perceive the reality of contemporary poetry.
But if this was the call to which we responded in solidarity, it also prompted us to take a jaundiced look at a few examples of the machismo that prevails in the world of Spanish language poetry. In an article published on January 16 in El Español, journalist Lorena Maldonado made good use of the unfortunate occasion of the death of poet Pablo García Baena to remind us of some of the bizarre hidden realities of this world. We might naively think that a man who is a poet must be a sensitive individual, but this is not always the case. That great, recently deceased poet has left us a legacy of few pearls of wisdom, such as this one: in referring to contemporary women poets like Raquel Lanseros as ‘trite’ ‘They write what people want, vulgarity.‘ He adds that ‘when a couple of women are on jury for a literary prize, until they reward one of their own, there is no way to shut them up’.
The poet Felix de Azua revealed his attitude towards Barcelona mayor Ada Colau in no uncertain terms when he said ‘She should be working in a fish stall’. This charming individual branded as feminazis the women who demand that election to the Real Academia Español should comply with the 2007 Equality Act since women occupy just 8 of 46 seats.
‘In I confess that I have lived, Neruda confesses that he raped a young cleaning woman, treating her as if she were his property just because she came from the lower classes. ‘One morning, in a mood to do whatever I felt like, I grabbed her tightly by the wrist and stared at her face to face. There was no language I could speak to communicate with her. She let herself be led by me without a smile and soon she was naked on my bed. Her skinny waist, her full hips, the overflowing cups of her breasts, made her a peer to the millennial sculptures of South India. The encounter was that of a man with a statue. She kept her eyes open all the while. Impassive. She was right to despise me.’
Nietzsche, when he was a poet, wrote ‘If you go with women, do not forget the whip. Wilde quipped, ‘A bigamist is man who has two women, just like a monogamist‘. Quevedo carped, ‘Oh what a plague, what boredom, what boredom is having to deal with them longer than the brief moments when they are good for pleasure‘. Who today knows Gertrudis Gómez de Avellaneda? What about Bécquer? Well, she was more successful than he was even though he alone has gone down in history. And the few comments that have been made about her are of this sort: ‘This woman is quite a man’.
The machismo of Juan Ramón Jiménez shut out the brilliant Zenobia Camprubí. Gerardo Diego ignored the women of the Generation of ’27 in his Spanish Poetry Anthology 1915-1931. Concha Méndez, a distinguished poet of that generation, was known as Manuel Altolaguirre’s ‘woman’ (meaning wife). Cela said ‘Women are to be enjoyed, then some you leave, others not … it depends on the province where they live‘. I’ll finish with the misanthropic writer Paco Umbral:Violent hatred is the most peaceful way that a husband, a lover, an enchanted man has to express his love’. All of the above are a few choice examples from the phallocentric world of poetry and literature assiduously researched by Lorena Maldonado (who documents in her article quite a few more chilling ones), in which the role of women is reduced to that of a muse.
During the introduction to the reading, Rafa Aranda added to the analysis above his personal note on the officially unrecognized but conflictive etymology of the Spanish term poetisa, noting that, once he made his discovery he could never again use this beautiful-sounding word because it has been sometimes used in a derogatory sense: ‘The ugly poetess, when she does not achieve the category of poet, is generally nothing more than an ugly woman making love to herself in verse.’ (Realist novelist and celebrated journalist Clarín in Solos de Clarín (1881) Solos de Clarín, Madrid, 1971, 86).
But during the poetry reading sponsored by Poémame on January 18, 2018 at the Cafè de les Delícies in Barcelona, ​​it was forcefully demonstrated that, thankfully, that such a sad scenario does not always prevail, even while the attitudes and behaviour described above may still be prevalent. A report on this event even found its way into an article on the Fired! website entitled A Reading of Irish Women Poets in Barcelona ).The session featured Francesca Castaño, Kymm Coveney, Inés Caravia, Dick Edelstein, José L. Regojo, Michael Bunn and Magda Seoane. Edelstein, in his reading themed People you know, places you know included a tribute to the recently deceased Neil Middleton, a distinguished Irish-based former publisher who regularly visited Barcelona and was known for his commitment to and activism in favour of women’s’ rights,.Also included was a poem inspired by a contemporary Irish women writer known to a large part of the audience and a poetic tribute to pioneering computer programmer Ada Lovelace entitled “To Ada With Love”, read by Ann King. Inés Caravia presented a well prepared, highly dramatic reading of poems by her late friend Juana Bignozzi, the Argentine poet, and by Irish women poets Freda Laughton and Geraldine Plunkett Dillon.
Readers may wonder how the work of these overlooked early 20th century Irish writers would be judged by a contemporary audience. Just listen to the sound file attached below, to the fervour of spontaneous applause from an audience hearing them for the very first time, and wonder at how it came about that we managed to let these talented writers slip into oblivion, and how a group of diligent contemporaries has now, thankfully—and to our great benefit—drawn them back from an unmerited abyss.
In closing, we must add a big thank you to Josep and Laia and all of the owners and staff of the Cafe de les Delícies, who helped facilitate our extraordinary event!

José Luis Regojo is a member of the editorial board of the Spanish digital magazine and poetry publishing platform, Poémame. He has translated or contributed to several volumes of poetry and essays by Gary Snyder published in Spanish and Catalan. Based in Barcelona where he teaches English, he is a Research Fellow at The Center for Gary Snyder Studies at Hunan University in China. He has published a number of books in Spanish, including the children’s book Max y su Sombra. Actively involved in many civil right causes, he is a long-standing member and former executive board member of Amnistía Internacional Catalunya.

Poesía es machismo: Pablo García Baena y otros poetas que despreciaron a la mujer Poesía es machismo / El Español January 16 in El Español,


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