From the ivory tower to the control tower Poetics and Poetry Javier Rodríguez Marcos

From the ivory tower to the control tower

  1. The event took place on
Javier Rodríguez Marcos
Javier Rodríguez Marcos, direction


  1. Javier Rodríguez Marcos

    (Cáceres, 1970) es autor de los libros de poemas Naufragios, Mientras arden y Frágil (Premio El Ojo Crítico de Poesía 2002). Es también autor de los libros de viajes Los trabajos del viajero y Medio mundo. Su obra ha aparecido en antologías de poesía última española como La generación del 99, La lógica de Orfeo y la portuguesa Poesía Espanhola de agora. Fue redactor del suplemento cultural del diario ABC y actualmente lo es del diario El País. Ha publicado, en colaboración con Anatxu Zabalbeascoa, los libros Vidas construidas. Biografías de arquitectos y el ensayo Minimalismos. Fue uno de los comisarios de la exposición Minimalismos. Un signo de los tiempos celebrada en el Museo Reina Sofía de Madrid entre julio y octubre de 2001.

Poetics are metaphysics. A poem is a metamorphosis. So, what is a poetic in the end? I am afraid that above all, it is a list of intentions, of good intentions. Poetics are most of time idealistic. They speak less about what authors write, and more about what they would like to write. It is a sort of policy programme in an election campaign. Reality, clumsiness, or dismissal makes everything become much more mundane once we compare with the poems that the poetics are attempting to describe. If a poetic is a diagnose, poems are the medicine. This is, a chemical compound full of contraindications and secondary effects: that which is good for a headache causes stomach ache, that which raises blood pressure causes insomnia, that which seeks the perfect control of the technique causes hypothermia and low blood pressure. If I have to choose, personally I prefer those that take some risks and, although not being perfect, do alter the blood flow in a quest for emotion over perfection.

And we are aware that emotion depends on the neighborhood. André Gide used to say in L'immoraliste (The Immoralist) that if we were ever granted with other's happiness, we would not know what to do with it. The same is true with emotion, which may be vital for a certain reader while it is ridiculous for the neighbor. This is the reason why the reading of a poem is untransferable after all. I do not think that poetry can change humanity, but it may change the human beings. It does not change the world, but it does change the square meter within which we are trying to change the world. In the hand-to-hand combat that happens between a poem and its reader, we find something similar to what happens between two lovers. In their conversation there will always be something that an external listener will miss. This is why a sort of private language develops between them, a language full of corny diminutives and common places. For the rest, those words and the way they are mentioned can result hermetic and trivial. But accepting the well-meant nature of all poetics, I will strongly support in certain words of Nietzsche that I have always found very accurate: "That which has history cannot have a definition". The same is true for words, never minding the will of poets to find eternal definitions. Any definition of course attempts to become definitive. Even T.S. Eliot when giving a definition of poetry said that he was moving in a realm between eternity and time, something we could translate into the crossroad between definition and history, between metaphysics and metamorphosis.

Thus, I will attempt to combine the story I have written with a portable, precarious and provisional definition of poetry as I see it. The former is born of the few certainties contained in the three poetry books I have published until now: Naufragios, Mientras arden, and Frágil. The later derives from my doubts while writing in the present, a process in which what we don't want to say is always much more clear that what we do want to say. Because, after all, every new poem is written in opposition to the previous one, and each new book tries to correct the previous one, trying to tell what was not told before, or to tell it in a better way.