The Lorca PrizePosted by Simon Tue, August 28, 2018 19:25:06
I have posted seven times on the Lorca Poetry
Prize and I must say I’m getting a little bit bored with the subject. I last
wrote about it in June 2017, but before that I had omitted to mention Rafael
Cadenas, the 2015 winner, and indeed this year’s prize-giving, to the Catalan
poet, Pere Gimferrer, took place several months ago. Isabel Vargas reported in
Granada Hoy (15 Mayo, 2018 https://www.granadahoy.com/ocio/Granada-BPere-GimferrerB-Lorca-erudito_0_1245475487.html) that Gimferrer made his first of a
number of public appearances in Granada as 2017 prize-winner on 14 May 2018. He
proved to be one of the winners with the funniest sense of humour, she said.
Not sure if that was a swipe at the rest or not.
main problem with the prize is that it is not very exciting: no risks are taken
when choosing the poet to be honoured; there can really be no surprises.
From its initial concept, the purpose of the
Prize, The International City of Granada-García Lorca Poetry Prize to give it
its full-blown official title, has been to allow the city of Granada to bask in
the aura contributed by its annual prize-winner, courtesy in turn of the status
of its greatest son. In this way, prize-giver and prize-winner will be mutually
benefitted, as the glory of the winning poet is reflected in and enhanced by
the glory of our city of dreams and poetry, and vice versa.
The physical presence of the prize-winning poet to bestow his or her
aura on the city is so essential that when the third winner, the Peruvian
Blanca Varela, was too unwell to attend the function, with the consequent loss
of much of her cultural magnetic pull, the organisers decided henceforth to
withhold the then quite considerable prize money in the case of the winner not
being present to collect it.
Over the years, the value of the award has been
reduced from 50,000 to 20.000 euros. That’s austerity - and the law of
diminishing returns - at work.
Lorca Prize is awarded in recognition of a poet’s life’s work, and although
Lorca himself produced his extraordinary life’s work in a period of some twenty
years, a consequence of that stipulation is that the fourteen prize winners to
date have an average age of 81 years and between them had clocked up well over
1000 years by the time of their award.
Age is the
first factor that contributes to the predictability of the award. One has to be
sure they have accrued sufficient kudos in their field. A second factor is the
careful cautious distribution of the prize between Iberian and Latin American
writers. Seven have been from Spain; and seven from the Americas.
factor is that any poet worthy of the Lorca will almost certainly hold other
important awards. No poet will ever be ‘discovered’ by the Lorca Prize
selection process. The majority of the winners also won the Reina Sofia; either
before or afterwards.
conservative nature of the selection process also gives rise to a gender bias
that reflects recent and contemporary society. Just four of the fourteen
winners have been lady poets: three Latinas and one Andaluza.
So this time
it was Pere Gimferrer’s turn to come out on top of the formulaic approval
process. Born in Barcelona, Gimferrer is a many-faceted man of letters who
writes in Castilian and Catalan. His birth date shows that he is just twenty
days younger than me (b.2.6.1945), so at 72 rather on the young side to be a
Lorca winner. On the other hand, he’s been winning national and international
poetry prizes since 1966, among them the Reina Sofía (in 2000), and this
compensates for his relative ‘youth’.
Mayor Francisco Cuenca underlined the edge his city gained by being able to
include in its honours list such a paramount figure of contemporary Spanish
poetry; and, what’s more, one with a demonstrated familiarity with and
commitment to the work of Granada’s great poet-playwright, having overseen, in
1978, the first issues of the previously unpublished plays El público y Comedia sin título.
this makes Gimferrer an ideal and well-deserved recipient of Granada’s
prestigious poetry prize.
Nevertheless, as hinted at above and without wanting to detract from the
achievements and the talents of any of the prize-winners, I find the annual
rigmarole a bit on the dull side.
The greatest poets are by their nature non-conformists,
anti-establishment, even dissidents. Are they not? They do not go with the
flow; on the contrary they swim against the current. Think of Lorca in the
first decade of his literary life, struggling to establish himself as a
creative writer and win economic independence to pursue his chosen vocation. A
little formal recognition in the form of an even modest pecuniary reward then
would have helped him on his way and relieved him of some years’ anxiety. A
more modest Poetry Prize awarded in this spirit would be more fitting for the
memory of our highly venerated local-universal poet is what I think.
The City of Granada International Poetry Prize is of course not that
kind of award. More’s the pity. Only well established poets who already have a
long list of published and recognised works to their name can come into
consideration for it. Thus poets who may have forged their way against the
established grain are harnessed to what are basically conservative and
manifestly un-poetic ends. That’s what I think.
The Lorca PrizePosted by Simon Fri, June 09, 2017 18:58:43
The other night I was at the Lorca Centre to
attend the prize-giving ceremony for the City of Granada-Federico García Lorca
International Prize for Poetry, to give it its full title. The winner was a
Uruguayan poet called Ida Vitale, at 93 the oldest award winner yet, a close contemporary
of Mario Benedetti (1920-2009).
Choosing such an old woman might have seemed
like a bit of a risk if it were not for the obvious vitality of the prize-winner.
For the Prize organisers consider it absolutely crucial that the poet selected
for the award be present at the official ceremony. This is because the whole
occasion is set up to promote the city culturally, so when Blanca Varela
(winner in 2006) was too unwell to attend, they decided henceforth to withhold
the quite considerable prize money in the case of the winner not coming to
collect it. Indeed, in 2011, the Cuban poet Fina García Marruz, aged 88 at the
time, was also not well enough to attend, so I wonder if she had to forgo the
cash prize? Sounds a bit hard, doesn’t it?
average age of the prize-winning poets is now well over 80. This is because the
Lorca Prize is expressly awarded in recognition of a poet’s entire life’s work.
The idea is that the occasion will be of mutual benefit to both city and poet,
in that on the one hand the poet’s established reputation is further enhanced
by being associated with the city that was home to Andalusia’s greatest twentieth
century poet (?), while the city is allowed to bask for a while in the fame and
glory of that particular year’s prize-winner.
The City of Granada-Federico García Lorca
International Prize for Poetry is a subject I have blogged on on a number of
occasions previously, though not since September 2015. I have commented
primarily on the advanced age of the award winners and secondly on the
delicately maintained balance between Spanish and Latin American poets. Indeed,
if we count Tomas Segovia as half Mexican and half Spanish (he was born in
Valencia), six-and-a-half of the winners have been from the Iberian peninsula
and six-and-a-half from America.
Another common denominator is winning the Reina
Sofia before or after the Lorca. I think nine of the thirteen Lorcas have won
both. While not wanting to talk of a ‘copycat’ syndrome, there is no doubt that
the two prizes are fishing in the same waters.
lastly, before Ida Vitale, only three of the winners had been lady poets. Member
of council for culture Rosa Aguilar made use of her place on the podium to
criticise this fact. The award going to Vitale is recognition of the value of
poetry made by women, something said counsellor is keen to promote.
While not denying the great contribution made
by these prestigious winners of a prestigious prize, I have to express some
regret that the Lorca Prize is not granted in a rather more adventurous spirit.
Thinking of the struggle it took Lorca to establish himself as a poet and win
economic independence to pursue his chosen vocation, the idea of a Poetry Prize
named after him seems like a good one. Lorca came close at one time to giving
up and knuckling under, tempted to apply for a proper job to please his
exasperated father, who saw no future in his son’s poetic bent and lack of conventional
professional ambition. (See my following post.) A little formal recognition at
the beginning of his literary career in the form of a cash award would have
helped him on his way and relieved him of some years’ anxiety and freed him
from an at times humiliating dependence on his father.
The City of Granada International Poetry
Prize, however, is not that kind of award. Worth 30,000 Euros (reduced from
50,000 when times got hard and money short during the Crisis), the city is not
interested in taking risks and seeks its winners exclusively among well
established poets who in return for the dosh can lend the city something of
their achieved acclaim and glory.
The Lorca PrizePosted by Simon Thu, September 24, 2015 22:02:09
The City of Granada-Federico García Lorca International Prize
for Poetry is a subject I have blogged on on a number of occasions previously: #post45, #post 43, #post 39, #post 24, #post 5 for example.
The latest winner (for 2014) was
Granada's very own Rafael Guillén, born in
1933, so 81 when he got the prize; member of the Generation of the 50s, one of
the most important poets of his generation, etc; with an assortment of awards,
though not (yet) the Reina Sofia.
Rafael Guillén was one of the
poets who emerged with the group "Versos al aire libre" in post-War
Granada. He remained prominent in the local cultural scene and finally managed
with other local authors, most notably Elena Martín Vivaldi and Antonio
Carvajal, to get the Academia de Buenas Letras de Granada set up in 2001.
I got this from the official Premio Internacional de Poesia Ciudad de
Granada/Federico Garcia Lorca http://www.premiogarcialorca.es/actividades.htm
In the course of my blogging I
would try to define and refine the profile of a Lorca Prize winner and sometimes tried –
without any success – to predict the next year’s winner.
First of all, the average age of
the award winner is 80. Secondly, six have been from Spain and five from Latin
America, if we count Tomas Segovia as a Mexican. So that’s fairly evenly
balanced. But if we look more closely at those broad categories, we find that
no less than four of the Spaniards were Andalusians and three of
the Latinos Mexicans. Look at this overview:
We see that eight of the winners
also won the Reina Sofia; three of them had already won it, four of them would
win it later, and one, Fina Garcia Marruz, won them both in the same year,
2011. Otherwise, nearly all of them have won other important awards, including
the Cervantes on two occasions.
Just three of the winners have
been lady poets: two Latinas and one Andaluza.
So, down to the predictions for
the next Award. Isn’t it a woman’s turn? And possibly-probably Latin America’s.
Only three countries are represented among the five Latin American winners (Mexico, Peru, Cuba). So maybe it's the turn of another country.
may well be among the 41 poets who were nominated for this year’s prize but
lost out to Granada’s Guillen. Among those names are two I have considered as
potential winners in previous blogs. One is Ernesto Cardenal of Nicaragua. Once
I thought he might be too radical, having been Minister of Culture with the
Sandanista Government between 1979 and 1988. However, he recently won the Reina
Sofía, which puts him in with a good chance for the City of Granada. The other
is Chilean, Nicanor Parra Sandoval, who at 101 years of age has probably
outlived his usefulness for the Award.
the 41 there are 9 women. As I reckon it must be a woman’s turn, if I have time I am
going to study the form for a future blog.
The Lorca PrizePosted by Simon Sat, February 08, 2014 06:47:01
"But at my back I always hear
Time's winged chariot hurrying near"
Mexican poet, winner of the X Lorca Poetry Prize, feels honoured to receive the
award, as any poet would. It must also be an uncomfortable reminder of his own
old man and I’ve seen many of my fellow poets pass away, like Juan Gelman who
was a year younger than me.” Gelman died on 14 January this year. On 26 January
he was followed to the beyond by José Emilio Pacheco, winner of the II Lorca
Prize eight years ago. Indeed, four of the first five winners - Ángel
González, Blanca Varela, and Tomás Segovia as well as the aforementioned Pacheco
- are already dead. Lizalde says he was bound to all of them by friendship as
well as chosen profession. “I am a survivor,” Lizalde claimed gallantly.
Lizalde is 85.
The average age of the other five surviving prize winners is 87. So Lizalde
could be accused of a modicum of over-optimism.
Lorca Prize is awarded in recognition of a poet’s life’s work, the 40%
mortality rate is not so surprising. From its initial concept, the purpose of
the City of Granada-Federico García Lorca International Prize for Poetry, to give it its full
and official title, has been to allow the city to bask a little in the fame and
glory of the poetry prize-winner.
Last year's and this year's award ceremony. Spot the difference?
something like this: Garcia Lorca was Granada’s greatest son and one of the
greatest poets of the past century, and linking the two to living poets of
quasi-universal acclaim will mutually benefit both city and the poet it
endorses. So each year, praise for the virtues of the winning poet has the
secondary effect of enhancing the cultural status of the city. To this end, the
services of Don Felipe y de Doña Letizia, Prince and Princess of Asturia, who
presided over the first and the latest award-giving ceremony, have been instrumental
in ensuring that Granada is reflected favourably in relevant cultural circles
and beyond, thanks to the extra media exposure achieved. The association of the
Prince and Princess of Asturias with the Prize guarantees for the city a
greater repercussion in the media than would be attained by a more modest
arrangement in terms of pomp and pecuniary reward.
From the outset,
with its initial presentation in New York in 2004, the Lorca Prize sought to take
advantage of the aura contributed by the winning poet. The presence of the
prize-winning poet is so essential to the promotion of the city, that when the
third winner, the Peruvian Blanca Varela, was too unwell to attend the function,
with the consequential loss of divulgatory clout, the organisers decided
henceforth to withhold the quite considerable prize money in the case of the
winner not being present to collect it. In 2011, the Cuban poet Fina García
Marruz, aged 88 at the time, was also not well enough to attend, and so
presumably had to go without the cash prize.
Great poets are
by their nature dissidents, Lizalde, who was proud of having been banned by the
Franco regime, would insist, somewhat defiantly. Even so, they can be harnessed
to what I see as manifestly conservative political ends.
[Source used: G.
CAPPA Granada Hoy 05.02.2014]
The Lorca PrizePosted by Simon Sun, January 19, 2014 13:32:28
On Tuesday 14 January the Argentinian poet Juan Gelman died at his home in Mexico City and so, in spite of winning the Juan Rulfo in 2000, the Reina
Sofía and the Pablo Neruda in 2005, and the Cervantes in 2007, the Lorca Prize – the International City of Granada Garcia Lorca
Prize for Poetry, to give it its full title - has alluded him forever.
Born in Buenos Aires in 1930, he had lived in Mexico since 1988. Son
of Ukrainian immigrants he got into poetry on hearing his brother recite
Pushkin to him in Russian, a language Gelman, apparently, did not understand.
On his death, he was recognised as one of the greatest poets of twentieth
century Spanish literature, winning practically every important prize in the
Spanish-speaking world, with the exception of the Lorca.
I had been tipping Juan Gelman for the Prize since
October 2010 (blog #post5) on the basis of his literary profile which fitted that
of a Lorca Prize winner perfectly. Not only was he one of most widely read and
influential poets in Spanish, translated into fourteen major languages, there
were a number of other essential criteria that he fulfilled.
One. At 83, he was just the right
He is from Argentina. My
reckoning was that, as the prize tends to alternate between Spain and Latin
America, and as, in 2013, previous Latino winners had been from just three
countries – Mexico, Peru, and Cuba – a poet of the calibre of Juan Gelman from Argentina
must fancy his chances. (However, it must now be said, that, while five of the
ten Prize winners have been Latinos, three of them have been Mexicans, and
three of the five Spanish winners have been Andalusians, so the Prize does not
depend only on geography.)
Another factor in his favour, Latin
American prize-winners are likely to be holders of the Pablo Neruda Prize (as
Gelman was), or the Octavio Paz Prize, or both (as in the case of José Emilio Pacheco,
2005-winner), and maybe the Juan Rulfo Prize for Latin American and Caribbean
Literature (Gelman’s first major award).
Also: the Lorca and the Reina Sofía
Prize go hand-in-hand. If a Lorca Prize winner is not already a Reina Sofía
Prize holder, the chances are s/he soon will be. Seven of the nine/ten Lorca
Prize winners have also been Reina Sofía Prize holders. Three won the Lorca
Prize first, three the Reina Sofía, and, in 2011, Fina García Marruz of Cuba
actually won both. Gelman, who won it in 2005, must have felt he was in the
running for the Lorca ever since.
Gelman even had the Cervantes, awarded
for all literary genres and not just poetry. So far it has only been claimed by
one Lorca Prize winner, José Emilio Pacheco, second winner in 2005, who went on
to win both the Cervantes and the Reina Sofia in 2009.
The award’s main aim is to bestow prestige on the city of
Granada and it is only awarded to well established poets who already have a
long list of published and recognised works to their name and whose reputation
would reflect back on the city. It seems that the judges judged that Granada
could do without Gelman’s stamp of authority as the prize became more and more
Previous blogs 5, 24, and 39
Aknowlegements to BERNARDO MARÍN El Pais 15
The Lorca PrizePosted by Simon Sat, October 12, 2013 18:02:40
Lizalde, winner of the X City of
Granada-Federico García Lorca International Prize for Poetry, was born in Mexico
in 1929 and so is 84 years old.
can say that Lizalde has the profile of a Lorca Prize winner in that he is in
his 80s and this year it was Latin America’s turn. Yet he is atypical in that,
though a previous poetry prize winner, he has won no major award outside his
native land and he is the third Mexican of the 5 Latin American winners, so one
wonders. [Three of the five Spanish winners have been Andalusians.] I have long been predicting success for the Argentinian Juan Gelman who is 83 and
has already won the Juan Rulfo in 2000, the Reina Sofía and the Pablo Neruda in
2005, and the Cervantes in 2007! [See http://blog.granadalabella.eu/#post24 ] Latin American prize-winners are, on balance, likely to be
holders of the Pablo Neruda Prize, or the Octavio Paz Prize, or both (Pacheco).
Or at least the Juan Rulfo Prize for Latin American and Caribbean Literature.
they say, a widely acknowledged poet in Latin America even though he has as yet
not had any Spanish award to add to his name. The Lorca and the Reina Sofía
tend to go hand-in-hand, so he can be hopeful of more recognition this side of
the Wide Sargasso Sea in future.
Laura García-Lorca, representing the Lorca
Foundation on the judges’ panel, is at any rate happy about the choice. He
will, she is convinced, consolidate the reputation of the award "already world
famous". And this is the point of the prize: prestigious poets are chosen
to further enhance the prestige of Lorca’s Granada, which enhances their
prestige with the hope of going on to win further prizes and prestige.
Well, as we blogged only yesterday, the Lorca
Centre will be operational by next June. Will we see Eduardo Lizalde collecting
his Lorca Prize at the Lorca Centre? Why not? That would be
logical. Says Laura García-Lorca, the Poet’s
Thanks to G. Cappa Granada Hoy 12.10.2013
The Lorca PrizePosted by Simon Tue, November 06, 2012 14:26:56
2012, Pablo García Baena became the ninth winner of the Lorca International Prize for Poetry, awarded annually by the City of Granada.
García Baena was born in Cordoba in 1923, so won
the prize at the age of 89. He already has in his possession the Príncipe de
Asturias Prize for Literature (1984), the Andalusian Prize for Letters (1992)
and the Reina Sofía (2008).
The award came as a surprise, he said, just when he thought he had been
overlooked once and for all and that the time had come for him to hang up his
poetic gloves. His reaction is understandable, for the average age of the nine
Lorca Prize winners is a mere 80. He is indeed the oldest of them all,
although, apart from José
Emilio Pacheco, the second recipient of the award in 2005, who won the prize at
the sprightly age of 66, all winners have been well beyond the age of
retirement for us normal mortals. García
Baena had been in the
running on several previous occasions.
All that was left for him now was the Cervantes
Prize, he surmised, ruefully, but without false modesty.
Once again we have to agree with García Baena’s
appraisal of the situation. The Lorca and the Sofía Prize go hand-in-hand. If a
Lorca Prize winner is not already a Reina Sofía Prize holder, s/he soon will
be. Seven of the nine Lorca Prize winners are also Reina Sofía Prize holders.
Three won the Lorca Prize first, three the Reina Sofía, and last year, in 2011, Fina García Marruz of Cuba, at the tender age of eighty-eight, won both. And with the Príncipe de Asturias on his mantlepiece for nigh
on twenty years, what else is there for the Andalusian poet to aspire to?
so, the Cervantes is is somewhat ambitious goal. Awarded for literature rather
than (just) poetry, so far it has only been claimed by one Lorca Prize winner,
José Emilio Pacheco, second winner in 2005, who went on to win both the
Cervantes and the Reina Sofia in 2009.
hindsight, García Baena had the clear profile of a Lorca Prize winner,
characterised as one who, as well as being a seasoned poetry prize winner, is
more likely to be in his 80s than in his 70s. And, yes, with poetesses winning
the two previous editions (though only three of the nine have been women), it
was probably a man’s turn in 2012. And a Spaniard’s. The prize tends to
alternate between Spain and Latin America. He was, incidentally, the third
Andalusian poet to win the prize, all of them in the last four years.
Coincidence or policy decision?
prize money has been reduced from 50,000 to 30,000 euros in these times of crisis,
it is still evidently an award of great value and prestige, and the prize
givers are not inclined to take any risks.
is why next year’s winner is likely to be a Latin American. It’s their turn.
Latin American prize-winners are likely to be holders of the Pablo Neruda Prize,
or the Octavio Paz Prize, or both (Pacheco). Or the Juan Rulfo Prize for Latin
American and Caribbean Literature. As previous Latino winners have been from
just three countries – Mexico, Peru, and Cuba - Argentina or Chile must be in
with a good chance next year, and a poet of the calibre of Juan Gelman must
fancy his chances, especially as at 83 next year he is also the right age. He
won the Juan Rulfo in 2000, the Reina
Sofía and the Pablo Neruda in
2005, and the Cervantes in 2007! He’s obviously been on the Lorca Prize
shortlist on a number of occasions already.
eye on the Reina Sofía, this year’s winner Ernesto Cardenal of Nicaragua must
be another hot contender for the Lorca. I confess I did think he was too
radical and might be disqualified for his association with the Sandanista
Government. He was Minister of Culture
between 1979 and 1988. However, time is a
great leveller and winning the Reina Sofía shows he has become respectable
enough to stand a chance with the City of Granada jury, presided over by the
Lord Mayor, currently the conservative José Torres Hurtado.
The Lorca PrizePosted by Simon Thu, October 21, 2010 00:17:25
THE INTERNATIONAL CITY OF GRANADA GARCIA LORCA POETRY PRIZE
Thinking of the struggle it took Lorca to establish himself as a poet and win economic independence to pursue his chosen vocation, the idea of a Poetry Prize named after him seems like a very good and well thought out idea. Lorca came close at times to giving up and knuckling under, tempted to apply for a proper job to please his exasperated father, who saw no future in his son’s literary inclinations and lack of professional ambition. A little formal recognition at the beginning of his literary career in the form of a cash award would have helped him on his way and relieved him of some years’ anxiety. The City of Granada International Poetry Prize, however, is not that kind of award. Worth 50,000 Euros, it is the highest sum handed out in any Spanish language poetry contest. The award’s main aim is to bestow prestige on the city of Granada and it is only awarded to well established poets who already have a long list of published and recognised works to their name.
And the winners were ...
The first winner in 2004 was Ángel González. González was born in 1925, so he was 79 when he won the prize. Spanish by birth, he had worked in academia and built a reputation that extended beyond the national borders. He had taught at the University of New Mexico from 1974 to 1994. His work is represented in the major anthologies of Spanish poetry of the 20th century, and was also included in the Vintage Book of Contemporary World Poetry published by Random House in 1996. He was also already the recipient of the highly prestigious Principe de Asturias (1985) and Reina Sofia Iberoamerican Poetry Prizes (1996).
José Emilio Pacheco was the second recipient of the award (2005) at the sprightly age of 66 (born 1939). Mexican, he was also extensively involved in English-speaking academia. Prior to the Lorca Prize, he had won the Octavio Paz Prize in 2003 and the Pablo Neruda Prize in 2004, and he went on to win both the Cervantes and the Reina Sofia Iberoamerican Prizes in 2009.
The third winner was also South American but this time it was the turn of a lady poet: Blanca Leonor Varela Gonzáles from Peru. Born in 1926, she was 80 when awarded the prize in 2006. Married to a sculptor she lived in Paris, Florence, and Washington DC in the 1950s, returning to Lima in 1962. She, like Pacheco, had also won the Octavio Paz Prize, before winning the City of Granada award. In the following year, 2007, she went on to win the Reina Sofia Prize.
The 2007 Award went to a Spanish male poet, Francisco Brines,
born in 1932, so aged 75 at the time of picking up his prize. Reckoned to the Generation of 1950, he was also an academic with a reputation in the English-speaking world, having been Professor of Spanish at Oxford University. He was named member of the Real Academia Española in 2001. He was awarded the Reina Sofia this year (2010).
Winner Number 5 at the age of 81 was Tomas Segovia, a poet born in Valencia, Spain, but then exiled in Mexico, where he taught at the Colegio de Mexico and other universities, hence also heavily involved in academia. He was a renowned translator and literary critic as well as poet. Before winning the Lorca Prize in 2008, he had won the Xavier Villaurrutia Prize (awarded to Latin american writers who have published in Mexico) in 1972, and then the Juan Rulfo Prize for Latin American and Caribbean Literature in 2005.
The next winner was Spanish and male and born in 1926, so 83 years old in 2009. Jose Manueal Caballero Bonald is an Andalusian poet, born in Jerez, also associated with the Generation of 1950. He taught Spanish Literature and Humanities at the Universidad Nacional de Colombia in Bogota, and later spent time in revolutionary Cuba. Involved as much in publishing as in academia - an activity which landed him for a while in a Franco gaol - in 1971 he bagan working for the Lexicography Seminar of the Real Academia Española. He won the Reina Sofia in 2004.
Finally, this year, 2010, we have another poetess, a Spaniard, an Andalusian from Malaga, María Victoria Atencia, aged 79, the ‘Emily Dickinson’ of Spanish poetry! Also associated with the Generation of 1950, also to some extent defined through her husband - Rafael León – she has a solid academic curriculum: member of the Real Academia de Bellas Artes de San Telmo in Malaga; of the Reales Academias de Cádiz, Córdoba, Sevilla y San Fernando; councellor of the Junta de Andalucía’s Centro Andaluz de las Letras; member of the "Fundación de la Generación del 27" in Madrid; of the "Centro Cultural Generación del 27" in Malaga; of the "Fundación María Zambrano"( Vélez-Málaga ), and "Honorary Associate of The Hispanic Society of America" of New York. She was awarded the Premio Nacional de la Crítica, 1997, the Premio Andalucía de la Crítica, 1998, and the Premio Luis de Góngora de la Letras Andaluzas in 2000.
So what is the profile of next year’s winner? In 2011 the Prize will be awarded for the eighth time. It’s clearly Latin America’s turn; only Mexico and Peru have figured amongst the previous winners. It might be a woman again, as only two of the seven hitherto winners have been. She or he is unlikely to be younger than 66 and more likely nearer to 80, and will probably be associated in some way to the Generation of 1950. They will have been awarded prizes in their own country, are likely to have a fair amount of academic experience and literary reputation abroad, probably in English-speaking countries. And if they haven’t been awarded the Reina Sofia, they soon will be!
On this basis, Juan Gelman must be one of the strongest contenders for next year’s prize. One of the most read and influential poets in Spanish, translated into fourteen languages, he’s Argentinean, was born in 1930, and he won the Reina Sofia in 2005. In addition to that, he won the Juan Rulfo in 2000, the Pablo Neruda in 2005, and the Cervantes in 2007.
Gelman will have two close competitors from Chile. One is likely to be Nicanor Parra Sandoval – if he lives long enough. He won the Reina Sofia back in 2001 and was short-listed for the Principe de Asturias this year. He’s also been short-listed for the Nobel Prize on a couple of occasions. He’s now 96 (born in 1914). Winner of the Juan Rulfo in 1991, named Doctor Honoris Causa of Brown’s University in the same year and Honorary Fellow of Oxford University’s St Catherine's College in 2000, he is considered to have been a major influence on Hispano-American literature.
The other Chilean contender is Gonzalo Rojas Pizarro, considered by many the country’s leading living poet. Winner of the Reina Sofia even further back, in 1992, the year in which he was also awarded the Premio Nacional de Literatura, and of the Cervantes in 2003, he is just three years younger than Parra Sandoval. Hard to say which of the two is the more likely candidate.
I personally would like to see Ernesto Cardenal get it, the Nicaraguan priest and poet who was Minister of Culture under the Sandinista Government between 1979 and 1988. In 2005 he was in the running for the Nobel Prize for Literature, which he may have failed to get for being too political. He’s certainly had a lot of influence beyond the Spanish-speaking world, though he’s won no important prizes. He was born in 1925 so he’s about the right age. I wouldn’t bank my life’s savings on him, though.
If it’s going to be a woman, Carilda Oliver Labra must be in with an outside chance. She’s the right sex and the right age (born in 1924; that’ll make her 87 next year). She’s Cuban and has won a number of prizes for her work, the first in 1950. In 2002, she won the International José Vasconcelos Prize, awarded in Mexico for promoting Spanish language culture and letters. Previously, she won the Certamen Hispanoamericano, organised by the Ateneo Americano in Washington, in commemoration of the third anniversary of the birth of the religious poetess Sor Juana Ines de la Cruz.
If there weren’t already two such strong contenders, another outside candidate from Chile must be Miguel Arteche. Born in 1926, 85 next year, he was an academic and worked in the diplomatic corp until exiled during the Pinochet dictatorship. He was made a member of the Academia Chilena de la Lengua in 1963 and in 1996 he was awarded the National Prize for Literature. He does not have such a strong CV as his senior poets, Pizarro and Sandoval.
Lat but not least, if the wanted to be adventurous,which they won't, they could choose Giannina Braschi, the 'nuyoricana' poet [o sea, una mixture de New Yorker y puertoriquena] who writes in Spanish, English and Spanglish. She was born in Puerto Rico in 1953, so at 58 would be a sensationally young, unestablished and inexperienced candidate for such a high and lofty distinguishment.