25 jun. 2009

Ullán, I'm coming to realize now, is a really key figure of Spanish culture of the past 40 years. I'm thinking I do need a chapter on him--or at least a good part of a chapter.

Collaborated with artists: Miró, Tàpies, Chillida, etc...

One of the only major poets who experimented in visual poetry.

Early translator in Spain of Jabès. Valente himself comes to Jabès through Ullán.

Knew María Zambrano; his poetry was admired by Octavio Paz.

Friend of Miguel Casado...

A significant career in journalism, in a country where the cultural supplements of newspapers have an importance they don't have in the US.

Yet Ullán never won the major awards and prizes. In a literary world where such prizes really are a driving force, and come almost automatically to writers with a certain longevity, he was not the one raking in all those awards. Perhaps it's better that way, because it makes us realize that prizes recognize value rather than creating it.

i feel horrible about not writing about him when he was alive. I was always too intimidated by his work, I suppose.

One of my favorite poems by Ullán is a sonnet, consisting of 14 lines of hieorglyphics of his own invention. There is a rhyme scheme of the Petrarchan sonnet-- ABBAABBACDCDCD--since the characters that end the lines recur in that order. Some are mimetic images--a fish, a bird, etc... Other glyphs are more abstract, but still highly expressive, hand drawn or maybe stenciled with real craftsmanship. It's visual poetry of the highest order, because it's not just conceptual: the written signs are dense and meaningful, and recur in a classic form, that of the sonnet.


If you google "Mayhew" with "García Montero," as I did last night, you will see that several people disagree with my most notorious position. This doesn't bother me. In the first place, if your work has a polemical edge, then people are bound to disagree. Protesting that is like protesting the fact that the player on the other side of the net is hitting the ball back at you. Once a critical position is a virtual consensus, then the issue is a closed one. Secondly, it's me they're disagreeing with. That is, I'm the one defining the terms of the debate. Thirdly, I am still right; I still have the stronger arguments on my side as far as I'm concerned. My position has always been that I could be mistaken, but you'll have to show me how. Fourthly: I don't take it personally if someone doesn't agree with me, even when their responses take on a personal or insulting tone (which is rare in any case). When I read that "Mayhew" says this or that, it almost seems like a different person to me. Seeing my own name in print has always done that to me.

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