In a poem meaningfully entitled “Creo en la vida” [I believe in life], Venezuelan poet Eugenio Montejo (1938-2008) affirmed: “but I am an atheist of nothing / except death.” This was his way of registering the deep rootedness he felt in what he himself called “terredad” or “earthdom,” that sort of affective consubstantial experience of life on Earth. Nonetheless, ten years ago, with great resistance, a fast-acting and untimely illness kept him from carrying on among us, at least physically.
As a homage to his creative work and the person himself, Latin American Literature Today has prepared this dossier, made up of texts by poets, essayists, and critics with expertise in Montejo’s work (Luis Enrique Belmonte, Miguel Gomes, Nicholas Roberts, and myself) that address some of the varied facets of this fascinating and complex body of work; a “choral interview” that serves as a sample of a project conceived by Montejo, in which multiple interlocutors (four, in this case: Julio Bolívar, Edmundo Bracho, Marina Gasparini, and José Pulido) ask him questions with the purpose of exploring his aesthetic and vital project; and, lastly, a selection of his poetry, not distant from the circumstances of his parting, along with one of his most emblematic essays, “The White Workshop,” in which we can find several of the essential elements that form the foundation of his poetic vocation. The translation of the entire dossier is owed to the talent and generosity of Arthur Dixon and Peter Boyle.
Arturo Gutiérrez Plaza
Translated by Arthur Dixon