words by Marilyn Bobes
It is amazing the variety of registers that poet Jesus Lara Sotelo achieves in each of his books. Even when a common thread of invisible relationships is established among all, its lyrical subjects acquire their own personality and unfold in the way of an actor who performs multiple characters.
Amaranto, from 2015, is perhaps the most impressive collection of poem by an author who does not care to please those comfortable heads who seek in poetry the calm of a conventional beauty, even when, around us, the world is collapsing.
And that fundamentally ethical collapse which leaves no room for the illusions of redemption is assumed by the protagonist of Amaranto, who assures himself not being willing “to move a single pin / nor to be silent before any demands that might cause pain”.
In Walt Whitman’s quote that serves as the gateway to the book, we had been warned that the poet would not accept anything that all cannot have in equal terms. This impossibility then leads him to the acceptance of anarchy as an effective formula for rejection, aware that “metaphors and pain also make us shake.”
It’s all about shaking. The man of postmodernity is the one Lara Sotelo defines as someone whose “soul has been dried up”, and in bold simile he declares that sometimes he feels like “the dry pulp of an orange that someone will throw to the dustbin”.
Eschatology, cynicism and, above all, nonconformity, give Amaranto that decadent flavor that should have felt Charles Baudelaire in his time when he wrote The Flowers of Evil, because this lyrical subject that we should not confuse with the author, writes destroying and at the same time longing for “the sky we did not have / the faith that turned into invisible sand without realizing it”.
Lara Sotelo expresses himself here with a very little assertive civility and he seems to speak to us in a dimension of universality that is not given by the frequent allusions to thinkers, scientists, painters or musicians from other latitudes, but by a power of ubiquity that allows him to be everywhere, geographically and existentially.
He places himself in the shoes of the convict, the rapist, all the social excrescence and, from there, he throws effective darts against “the usual answers”, in a desperate search that leads him to distrust of all powers, of all ordinances and even the same technological development that dehumanizes childhood with video games and addictions to the virtual aspects of cyberspace.
He sympathizes with Los insufribles del subterráneo, with all those who “disturb the symmetries of life” because he wants to leave proof of men, “of the madness with which they defend stupidity” even though he knows that “we all carry on our backs a secret carnage”.
Amaranto is perhaps the most accomplished book by Lara Sotelo or, at least, the most impressive one. The brevity with which it is expressed and the convincing conclusions—note that I speak of conclusions and not of answers—it arrives, turn the reader into a target of irreverence and the bold statements of this being that does not cling to what seems an impossibility to him: that equality Walt Whitman aspired to and the non-acceptance of injustices.
It seems the poet had departed from the fictional procedure of a Fernando Pessoa in the creation of a heteronym, because those who have or have had the possibility of approaching the twenty-three books of this prolific and boundless author will notice a sort of schizophrenia in his poetic system where Lara Sotelo is many men although, indeed an author with a style and a way of assuming their formal proposals that sum him up in an unquestionable unity.
This fragmentation, characteristic of postmodernity, allows us to diminish the importance that excludes absolutes at the same time as it illustrates a view of the world which reveals the different meta-stories that may contain what some call reality.
As realistic as it may seem, and even transparent, Lara Sotelo’s poetry, especially in the book we are now discussing, is a game with the reader. Perhaps a difficult chess game in which they ridicule all the traditional arguments that our time has proposed us as irrefutable truths.
His verses easily communicate with the receiver because they do not appeal to too many artifices of language but they acquire a complex quality when trying to penetrate them through the emotional side. It is not a world where vampires fall in love with their victims but where both, the first and the latter repel and tear each other apart.
A collection of poems that is inappropriate for minors. (And when I say minors I mean what Julio Cortázar called a “female reader”, no matter how much I am tormented by the implicit sexism within this term). A heretic book to which many will object a pessimism blaming the mirror of reflections with which it terrifies us from that other side.
Perhaps the underground violence that lies beneath many of his texts is channeled through a rationality that does not try to agree with conventions, not even with laws because the subject the poet proposes is an outlaw willing to seek a death that is not natural nor induced but invented, an imaginative death that longs for an unreachable peace.
Going often to extra-poetic and inter-generic resources that do not exclude some narration, the book approaches an aesthetic that takes from all disciplines of art or science in order to extract expressionist results that will surely shock the reader.
What we have called expressionism is perhaps what distinguishes this book from others by this same author, in which the arsenal of resources functions as a system, a kind of reflexive and encyclopedic Dadaism where the receiver’s knowledge is tested.
Other critics have called it imperfect, perhaps because they do not find in it that “harmony” that has been canonized until now as a sine qua non condition of beauty as a form of truth as postulated by John Keats.
But let us remember that Lara Sotelo demands us to disturb the symmetry of life. And in that sense his power of persuasion seems irrefutable.
If his most recent collection of poems titled Irla is the testimony of the insular man and Trece cebras bajo la llovizna, written in 2015, is a reflection of the universal man, then Amaranto represents, in my opinion, the anarchic man throwing rocks towards the stained glass windows of a heartless and dehumanized world.
June 1, 2016