El ciervo. Yolanda Pantin. Cali: El Taller Blanco Ediciones, 2021. 53 pages.
How do we recognize ourselves from behind while facing a self-portrait? What role do dreams play at the edge of our memories? In what way is it possible to endure in the emptiness? These questions and others draw our attention and keep us exquisitely unquiet in El ciervo, the revealing poetic anthology by Yolanda Pantin, the second edition of which was published by El Taller Blanco Ediciones during those now nostalgic first months of 2021.
As is the case on a carrousel, where we challenge the unilateral condition of our field of vision, allowing for the coexistence of multiple, swiftly moving landscapes, here the selected poems are presented before us like indispensable particles of a thriving whole in motion, and they lead us toward this textual journey that, although brief, becomes by default transcendental.
“Esta casa surge despacio en el agua de la lluvia que caía por los muros y olía a yerba y a todo eso” [This house emerges slowly in the rain’s water that would slide down the walls and smell of grass and all that] (Casa o lobo, 1981); the first line holds a touch of heavy-heartedness. The exploration of that house, its litanies and gossip collected in the zaguan, in the hallways, the corridors, and the columns, dominate the space of the poem and place us before that nerve of intimate inflection that seems to reign throughout all Yolanda’s poetics. El ciervo, whose title directly references the poem of the same name appearing in Poemas huérfanos (La liebre libre, 2002), comes to lay bare the musing of a singular style, as perceptive as it is dynamic: a scriptural mode that resounds and is projected from multiple, exceptional registers.
The selection of these poems—which from the compilation’s perspective impose a certain fundamental order for reading, while they make up a whole, an organic body of verses that interrogate and self-replicate—operates from the abrasive, from a sharpened pattern of writing that leaves its indelible mark on every period through which it passes.
Thus, in them we find the emergence of verses as distinct as they are proverbial, like those appearing in “Los sueños” (La canción fría, 1989): “No todo mi corazón te ama / sólo la parte que está enferma” [Not all my heart loves you / only the part that’s sick], or those that promulgate an intrinsic and necessary dissociation, a legitimized sorrowful weight, or a naive, self-referential uneasiness:
soy yo no hay duda (…) / soy yo es cierto pero ¿dónde / en qué lugar del mundo de mi casa / del país que aborrezco o el soñado / estuve un tiempo así hasta ese punto / tan oscura?
[it’s me there’s no doubt (…) / it’s me it’s true but, where / in what part of the world of my home / of the country that I abhor or the dreamed-of / I was like that for awhile until that point / so dark?]
(“Daguerrotipo de una desconocida,” in Los bajos sentimientos, 1993)
“Las mujeres solas hacen el amor amorosamente / algo les duele / y luego todo es más bien triste o colérico o simplemente amor” [Women on their own make love lovingly / something pains them / and then everything is somewhat sad or choleric or simply love], the author also tells us in “Vitral de mujer sola” (Correo del corazón, 1985), and then opens a list of statements presented as an identifiable form of power and empowerment. Yolanda proclaims, time and again, and this book expounds, reveals, and drives. On its back cover, Antonio Ortega already warns us:
El apetito de desmontaje de la propia operación poética recorre toda su expresión hasta volverla simulacro, ensayo reiterativo, esgrima solitaria. El verso crece sobre su propia ruina, como yerbajos aislados entre las estatuas caídas.
[The appetite for dismantling the very poetic operation runs through all her writing until making it an exercise, a reiterative rehearsal, a fencing bout alone. The verse grows upon its own ruins, like isolated weeds among fallen statues.]
It must then follow that the anthological question occurs naturally, through intuition, and through a tenacious, fortified presence of the poem, within that textual history written by the poet themself. It must be, perhaps, as Yolanda herself once said in an interview, that in this day and age—maybe more than ever—it becomes vital (and even imperative) to address poetry with “una fe absoluta en las posibilidades que brinda el lenguaje” [absolute faith in the possibilities that language offers].
Vanesa Almada Noguerón
Translated by Michelle Mirabella