I complained, or at least commented, recently, about the temptations and distractions involved in dusting bookshelves. At the moment a similar temptation confronts me every time I clean the log stove and re-lay the fire.
No, I’m not using books for fuel, but I do tend to start each fire off with a fir cone or two and a few sheets of paper; I’ve tried using some of my old drafts of poetry, but I fear my writing will never set the world alight and newspaper is definitely better.
It’s been years, though, since I read a printed newspaper with any regularity, and I’m sure neither i-pad nor laptop would be quite so usefully flammable. So, a couple of weeks ago, I’d pretty much run out of old newspapers and was wondering what to use instead when I found a bundle of papers neatly tied together with string on a shelf in the shed.
It was a collection of Babelia, the El País literary supplement, and I decided that since I hadn’t even known they were there, there was no reason not to consign them to the flames. Unfortunately, this means that every time I lay the fire now, I find an article I either missed first time round or had forgotten about, and the task can easily take half an hour rather than a couple of minutes.
Yesterday I was delighted to come across the interview of Jenaro Talens with a headline that I’ve been quoting at every poetry reading I’ve done for the last ten years. I even quoted it here on the blog last year, although I had no idea I might still have the cutting:
In the interview, Talens is asked if he agrees with the comment in the prologue of his new book that says that love is the ‘gran tema’ of all his poetry. He replies:
Sí, en tanto en cuanto toda poesía es poesía de amor. Pero no como planteamiento romántico convencional, sino como un impulso de deseo hacia la alteridad, que puede entenderse en un cuerpo concreto pero también en la relación con el mundo mismo.
Which translates approximately as:
Yes, inasmuch as all poetry is love poetry. But not in the conventional, romantic approach, but as an impulse of desire towards the ‘otherness’, which may be seen as a specific body, but also in the relationship with the world itself.
As for me, some of my poetry is love poetry in the simplest, conventional meaning of the term. Some is love poetry inasmuch as I love nature and the world around me and it inspires me to write. Sometimes what I write comes from the sheer love of language. Sometimes it comes from a desire to explore an idea, which is, perhaps, another kind of love.
There are no doubt other motivations and inspirations, and I certainly wouldn’t say that love was the theme of my writing, but the idea that ‘all poetry is love poetry’ is one that I relate to unreservedly. I am glad to have recovered the cutting and wonder what other gems I will find as I work my way through the pile of papers.