I’ve often wondered whether there are places more or less conducive to life as a poet.
In the film El lado oscuro del corazón, the poet Oliveiro sells his poems on the street corners of Buenos Aires, and he does so with a lot more panache than the ragged beggars who hand out photocopied scraps of hand-written verse in the Madrid metro and from bar to bar around the Spanish capital.
Perhaps I shouldn’t be surprised, then, to find that it’s possible to make a living from poetry in la ciudad porteña, although, even there, it seems that doing so is sufficiently surprising that it rates a headline.
The full story on clarin.com tells of Alberto Florindo Martínez and his wife Stella who take their poemóvil – the ‘poemobile’ – emblazoned with the slogan
los bombones engordan, las flores se marchitan, las joyas te las roban… regale arte, regale amor, regale poesía
(chocolates are fattening, flowers fade, jewellery gets stolen… give art, give love, give poetry) – around craft fairs and fêtes, and improvise poems to sell.
They are not accepted everywhere as “la poesía no es una artesanía” – incense, popcorn and Rolling Stones t-shirts are, but poetry is not a handcraft. Even so, they make more money from poetry than they do from their combined pensions. Good for them.