Our main character of today, once said: “In fact, we do not know what poetry is, but we recognize it when it appears, either in living or as writing.” In the eyes of some, poetry is the warm embrace you need when you’re feeling sad, the texts that keep you company in your silents nights, and in the quiet days with loud thoughts. Even in the darkest times, art is a light that still shines; the hope people can always rely on.
On May 11th we got a new light, we celebrated one of the most important voices in Venezuela’s literature. Rafael Cadenas was awarded the Premio Reina Sofía de Poesía Iberoamericana, for his poetry full of doubts, certainties, and reflections on the world. Rafael Cadenas verses spread throughout Latin America after the publication of Derrota, in 1963.
Born in Barquisimeto on April 8th, 1930, he showed his passion for poetry at the age of 16, when he published Cantos iniciales. In his early 20s, he met jail and exile thanks to his political beliefs; he took refuge in Trinidad and Tobago, where he lived for four years and learned English, which allowed him to translate into Spanish the works of poets like Walt Whitman and Robert Creeley. Cadenas most important works are Los cuadernos del destierro published in 1960, Falsas maniobras in 1966, Intemperie in 1977, and Gestiones in 1992.
Thanks to Cadenas contribution to the common cultural heritage of Latin America and Spain, he became the first Venezuelan writer to receive the distinction of Premio Reina Sofía, but he asked not to be identified as the first Venezuelan who did because Andrés Eloy Blanco also won the most important poetry prize of his time. The poet will receive the award in the Auditorium of the University of Salamanca on October 23rd. He wins this award after the Nicaraguan Claribel Alegría, who obtained it in 2017.
Rafael Cadenas was one of the founders of the political and literary group Tabla Redonda, where he got to share his pro-communism ideas. Those were his last years believing the possibility of the Cuban Revolution; after that, the group that he created left him with the impossibility of believing in those ideals. He now lives in Caracas, home of the Central University of Venezuela, where he was a professor at the School of Letters for many years.
Cadenas describes himself as humble, silent and rebellious; he also endorses that poetry is a shelter against the storm of the degeneration of a country. And the literature, in general, has a therapeutic meaning for him. At the moment, the poet born in Barquisimeto plans to keep working to complete unfinished projects and sees the Premio Reina Sofía as a motivation.
Yo Amo Barquisimeto congratulates the master Rafael Cadenas for the award and all his beautiful works. Remember always to feel proud and support the great talents that our Twilight City has. Share someone’s essay or buy that book of poetry that a young dreamer published; you could have a little treasure on your hands. And who knows, maybe if you’re lucky, in some bookstore or literature event in Caracas, you’ll get the chance of sending our congrats personally to Rafael Cadenas.
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