I use the question mark in the title because I am not going to talk about new trends, currents or styles of poetry. Not even from the new poets. And much less from new sources that, ultimately, will always be the same: love, heartbreak, friendship, loneliness, life, death … I’m going to talk about a new way of doing poetry: the robotic. And I’m not really sure this is poetry. Or if.
A controversy broke out recently that reached the media and whose headline was: Espasa denies that the winner of his latest poetry award is a robot. (ABC. Nacional. Culture. 04.11.20) The publisher said then: We have spoken with him (the Venezuelan Rafael Cabaliere) on several occasions, yesterday we had a telematic meeting to talk about the launch and now a video is being recorded that will be launched on networks to show that it exists. He even announced a press conference with the Venezuelan that he later canceled. Why?
The controversy continues and even today no one is clear about what really happened. As the Valencian literature professor and novelist says Alberto Torres Blandina: If a robot is capable of winning one of the most endowed poetry prizes in Spain (20,000 Euros), poetry, the genre that requires the greatest sensitivity, I suppose that we can already give up on technology. And to add fuel to the fire, Tensión y Sentido has just arrived at the bookstores. An introduction to contemporary poetry, from the Argentine Mariano Peyrou, edited by Taurus, and in which you can read: The more readers the winning work of the last Espasa award has, for example, the further away we are from poetry.
The truth is that the jury of the aforementioned award was chaired by the renowned poet Luis Alberto of Cuenca, who had to hear and join, I suppose, the excuses given by the rest of the members of the jury: that if all the finalists were very weak and we could not leave it deserted, that if I did not vote it were the others …
I went to my bookstore last week to buy Taking Flight, which is the name of the book of controversy, and had been sold. At first I was surprised, but I quickly realized that the Venezuelan robot, if I may be licensed, has a million followers on Instagram, which, according to accredited voices, is the only reason why Espasa awarded him, thinking more about sales than about verses.
Comments on the poet, narrator and literary critic from Madrid Manuel Rico, which after one of the sessions of the Colloquium: The new Spanish poetry in the digital age, held at the University of Granada, coincided at dinner with several speakers, some poets, other professors and two let’s call them, representatives of the so-called parapoesía, young boys youtubers that sell tens of thousands of copies of verse books and what was his surprise when he found that none of them had a clue of the existence of José Hierro, Blas de Otero, Claudio Rodríguez, Rosales, Lope, Garcilaso or Rosalía de Castro, to name a few.
Unfortunately, without a doubt, but a product of these times of immediate consumption. To use and to throw away. Times in which anything goes if you sell. So the question may be: What can we poets do in the face of the challenges posed by the 21st century. And I believe that the first responsibility that we have is to save poetry from the threats that accompany its presence in cyberspace. Just as nature is a good to protect, so is poetry. So let’s get down to it without disqualifying in a generalized way, of course, what we think is in this field of robotic poetry, but knowing how to distinguish and value the place of poetry with capital letters. The same. Word in time as he masterfully defined it Antonio Machado.