25 may. 2009

Despite the lack of "voice" and "style" in Ullán's work I do have a sense of an authorial "presence," one at the level neither of rhetorical persona or of stylistic device (or cluster of devices).

I don't have my Ullán books here with me for the summer. His publication history is a complex one, with an early "social poetry" phase not represented in collected volumes. One book I remember consists entirely of accounts of various people's deaths, taken verbatim from newspapers, in various typographical layouts. Another takes its title from a sonnet by Góngora and consists largely of visual effects. Yet another, Manchas nombradas, or "named stains," refers largely to works of visual art, such as paintings by Tàpies.

I have an art book by him titled Agrafismos consisting mostly of squggly images that imitate writing but are not actually letters, or graphic signs of language--but which are not really anything but graphic signs of language.

Despite the large number of publications I don't have a sense of Ullán as a facile or garrulous writer. If he wrote 20 or 30 books each one is an individual work with its own integrity.

Ullán's death puts his work in a different perspective for me. I feel I should write about him. In fact, his poetry fill the exact space in my current project that I had left open. His inclusion would give the book a coherence and level of interest that it wouldn't otherwise have had.

At the same time, his passing marks the end of an era. If you knew everything there was to know about Ullán, you would have access to an entire period of Spanish culture. I feel this loss very keenly, though I only interacted with the poet very briefly over the course of a few days, a few years ago.