words by Yanet González Portal
With the publication of the collection of poems Amaranto, the visual artist Jesus Lara Sotelo completes a vast literary production for 2015 with six finished books. Among them there is the one presented last September, Trece cebras bajo la llovizna.
For writer and narrator Alberto Marrero, editor and prologue writer of both texts, in Amaranto: “the speech breaks borders and its place is the world we live in”. The experts of our author’s work both, in the field of visual and literary arts, will appreciate the continuity of the universal discourse that characterizes Jesus Lara’s entire work, as well as the protagonism of man in his own history. And in Amaranto, as the prologue states, “the treatment of issues such as racism, homophobia, sex, the omnipotent power, drugs or irrational consumption, among other issues, do not dismiss the lyrical inspiration of the book”.
From this inspiration and the very own daily topics, which are scarcely seen in poetry, we can find an example in the lines of the poetic prose entitled Victor Hugo:
“From his wheelchair he is disturbed by the mud. It is incredible that a deformed being like me is worried about the dirt of the streets he cannot walk on, he says scratching his testicles and then he is silent. He is great when he is silent and completes the crossword of his dreams with gestures that only I can decipher.’
In this sense, Cuban poet Lina de Feria recognizes in Lara’s writing a constant renewal because “he is capable of uniting Freud with roses, he is not afraid of that, of simplicity. That is the art of being able to mix what’s difficult with what’s easy, the tremendously provider and the tremendously important”.
I think that at the end of Amaranto, the reader might come to the same conclusion as the poet’s detractors and say: “it is too much”. Not for that reason it should be questioned, since the concern and exultation of this book are seen from the opening verses. According to intellectual Alberto Marrero, Jesús Lara “has credited a scriptural poetics that, although as part of the human existence as a catalyst, it can be deployed in infinitude of slopes, edges or spheres. And if a feature unifies this heterogeneity is its refusal to allow itself to be defined”. A complete and diverse artist like Jesus Lara could give a poetry that is different from his essence, but it illustrates both, a bloody bite and the intact whiteness of a sunrise in St. Petersburg.
Unlike his previous collection of poems Trece cebras bajo lo llovizna, a book that walks freely “between reality and what’s imagined and which unreservedly exposes contemporary events”, Amaranto takes on a more palpable and less predictable meaning in the way of saying, as says the prologue writer and as has mentioned the critic and writer Virgilio López Lemus. Lara is on the path to founding “a poetics that generalizes his work and captures all his work, both lyric (…) and pictorial”. If in the reading of Trece cebras bajo la llovizna is evident the sensation of being observing a historical landscape and of universal questions, in Amaranto each verse is narrated with magnifying glasses; it goes from the personal experience and passes it on to the reader and plays with him too, as in this one titled El color de la carne y el Pulitzer:
(…) My thinking is acid and ice cream stains my shirts / I believe in the truth and I urine with desire from a bridge / laughter softens fifty tendons of the face and relieves stress (…)
Jesús Lara Sotelo inaugurated his poetics at the age of 20 with the book ¿Quién eres tú, God de Magod?, of an exuberant, modernist and baroque language. With Amaranto I consider he closes a cycle of several works in which the excessive nature is simplified and he loses the fear of saying: tribulations are now worries and aromatic substances are perfumes, smells. The mastery of ¿Quién eres tú, God de Magod? is present in Amaranto, not in the lexical construction or the rethought aspect of words, but in the essence of what is said, in that gesture that Alberto Marrero defines as “a gesture of aversion, of discontent (…)”.
It is this gesture which leads the book to surpass the limits, to show you a wise poet who does not speak like wise men and who does not fear to drink in the channel of the antipoetic to deliver poems like Opciones para morir and El eterno triunfador, where it is stated: “I am afraid of the still, coagulated women… it is difficult to play at a temperature that removes the past / and causes me to sweat as thick as a dog’s drool”.
In the poem Boomerang and others in Amaranto there is the inescapable presence of the sententious or aphoristic writing, in which Lara Sotelo has proved his skills with two volumes: El escarabajo de Namibia (unpublished), and Mitologia del extremo, published in 2009. Here, they are not separated from the poem, as in his collection of poems Domos magicvs (2013), but united to the poetic construction:
(…) The ostriches run at a speed that stuns / and the lions sometimes get tired and finally give up. / But fleeing has its traps, its abrupt setbacks. / Keep the tickets and face the dust storms. / Remember that the truth in time is a weapon.
With the resistance of the amaranth shrub emerges the most recent literary creation by Jesus Lara Sotelo. This collection of poems reaffirms the poetic voice of the multifaceted creator, who considers 2015 as “one of the most relevant years for his literature”. In commemoration of the 25th anniversary of his artistic career, Lara presents five poetry books and, at the same time, continues his creation in visual arts. This is confirmed by his participation in the 12th Havana Biennial with the exhibition Irla, widely recognized by critics and several media.
This collection of poems invites to the pleasure, the acceptance, to understand the dubious purity of men and the “art of the third generation”. As a “cloud with red lips,” the reading of Amaranto rises, where Jesus Lara Sotelo surrenders to his essence of “living with what’s extraordinary”.