Adam in Barca

More on Valente
July 28, 2009, 2:27 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized


Following Dan’s lead on his blog, I thought it would make sense to say a bit more about the poet I’ve been studying and translating since the Spring and while I’ve been here.

José Ángel Valente was a Spanish poet, essayist, and translator born in 1929 in Ourense, Spain. He died in 2000 in Geneva. Though he’s been translated very infrequently into English, many Spanish critics have called him the greatest of the post-Civil War poets.

Valente was very prolific during his lifetime, writing and translating dozens of books, but he is most known for his distinctive style and strong beliefs on language and poetry. As his career progressed, his poems became less representational and more abstract, through Valente’s belief that poetry should be about pushing language “to its limits.”

I was first drawn to Valente because of his passion for painting and sculpture, after studying visual art/poetry in a seminar with Bonnie Costello (at BU). Valente was active in the Spanish art scene, becoming close friends with major Spanish artists like Eduardo Chillida or Antoni Tapies; he often included their work and other’s in his poems and essays.

I just finished writing an essay on Valente’s book “Interior con Figuras” (Interior with Figures), one of his first books to deal extensively with visual art. Picasso’s famous “Guernica” is one of the paintings included in the book, and I was fortunate enough to see it on my short trip to Madrid last week (more on that soon!)


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Love his glasses!

Comment by Heather Green

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