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The light of every morning, the twig of a tree and a chat in a pizzeria: how is the book that finds poetry in the little things

Carlos Batillana was born in Paso de los Libres, Corrientes.
Carlos Batillana was born in Paso de los Libres, Corrientes.

occasionally appear slightly unclassifiable books and that lack of definition is appreciated. They are occasions that renew the astonishment before reading and invite the plasticity of the unexpected. So it is with minimal actsnew volume of the poet Carlos Battilanawhich brings together a set of short prose texts that can be read as short essays, although sometimes they come close to a personal diary or micro-story.

The book (published by Kintsugi Editora) is divided into two parts. The texts of each of them are not essentially different, but we can test some distinction from their titles. “Trance”, the most voluminous section, pays tribute to his name, giving rise to texts that address issues of some importance, although never in a solemn way. There they talk about silence, poetry, breathing or death.

On the other hand, “Diary of the floating world” gives way to a lighter vision. Its name (which seems to be a nod to the “incomparable titles of the novels of Julio Verne” that Battilana celebrates) brings reminiscences of Japanese prints (ukiyo) linked to entertainment and momentary pleasure. Perhaps that is why here we find scenes from childhood, portraits of football idols that have been postponed a bit (Roberto Telch or the carlovich fork), or an approach to the style of the boxing rapporteurs as a “poetic school”.

A conversation, a walk through the city, reading a verse or a novel are the daily events that are at the origin of the writing of these texts, most of which were previously published on blogs or other digital media. Are apparently minimal events, but that have the power to illuminate an experience or fuel a reflection. That attention to the minuscule is a gesture that also predominates in Battilana’s poetry, which with a low tone, without stridency, always seeks —and finds— the poetic finding.

"minimal acts" collects daily experiences that Batillana turns into poetic discoveries.
“Minimum Acts” compiles daily experiences that Batillana turns into poetic discoveries.

Sometimes the event is the commotion produced by a verse or a poem. That is why some of these fragments are dedicated entirely to a poet (José Asunción Silva, Estela Figueroa or Alejandro Schmidt) or are their starting point. In any case, they give an account of the way of reading —attentive and lucid— of Carlos Battilana: the meticulous look at the universe contained in the verse of Alejandra PizarnikI have lain animal days” allows him to explain how the poet tenses the language, how she forces grammar to multiply meaning, and leads him to wonder: “what is poetry if not a problem of syntax?”.

It is that poetry, or language itself, is the main motif that is at the center of each of these fragments. These are approximations, not categorical statements that seek to impose a truth. That is why Battilana’s tone is always friendly, an invitation to imagine in a shared way: “It is possible to think that it is not that we give rise to poetry but that it is poetry that gives rise to us as subjects of a verbal experience” .

The calm way of enunciation is aware that thinking implies abandoning certainties and that this does not prevent rehearsing answers and hitting the target: “Poetry seems to find its language when it names words, its own language. It is probable that each poet responds to a background grammar that is his breath.

The reading of minimal acts it also offers the possibility of discovering echoes between these texts and the poetic work of Battilana. In fact, the book begins with “Trance”, which is a text that had already been included in the book of poems. The language of the plain. In that passage —from the book of poems to the book of prose—, a sort of declaration of principles is produced that dilutes the convention, makes that imaginary border between genres porous.

On the other hand, the poem “Las mañanas” and the text “Pizzería Imperio” address the same experience: in both there is the remembrance of the visit to the Rosario poet Edgardo Zotto in his last days and a shocking detail, the gratitude to the light of every morning, but above all to that morning of the present that is being lived. “Christmas”, in turn, takes up “Twigs”: the construction of the manger in the company of sons and daughters recreates the childhood scene “as a place where magic (that is, the abolition of death) happens again” .

The continuities open up questions like an offering: what nuances or details does each language manage to capture? What does one say that the other does not? Was it first the condensation of the poem and then the need to expand into a story? Or Did the narration precede that intimate form of silence that is the verse? Each language is mirrored in the other: recurrence seems to tell us that it is only possible to infinitely surround those intense nuclei of experience, and that although language never manages to touch them, it keeps us close to the fire of what makes a dent in memory and continues to pulsate. to be said.

A mural recalls Trinche Carlovich, a cult soccer player and an idol from Batillana's childhood.  (STR / AFP)
A mural recalls Trinche Carlovich, a cult soccer player and an idol from Batillana’s childhood. (STR / AFP)

“Sometimes it is not bad to remember the strength of the minimum”, says Battilana in one of the fragments of the book. “A twig, a touch of the air, the tiny light that returns in the morning. It’s a lot.” This appreciation of the minimum also makes the task of writing and correcting a poem: “That subsequent act (delete a comma, cross out a verse, separate a word from the rest on the blank page) is also a form of imagination ( …). Those minimal acts, subsequent to the first draft, which make detail and nuance emerge, contain the desire that the language of poetry is not annulled but, on the contrary, can be manifested”.

The meticulous observation does not only imply an aesthetic choice, it is above all a positioning. It is a way of subverting the dominant values: “The act of looking, of picking up the pebble that capital forgot, is a force.”

In this sense, there are several texts that show the material nature of the writer’s work and his proletarian condition. “The anger of the pariah”, for example, stops at the economic precariousness of the Peruvian poet Cesar Vallejo, who “lives with his enormous poetry, as if writing went through his fatigue and his plundered body.” In “You can qualify”, Battilana denounces “the gross capitalism that sometimes bogs down and postpones” and declares: “I only want to read and write. And everything else is an interruption”, giving an account of the tugs to which literary creation is subjected.

Contrary to the grandiloquence of accumulation, Battilana offers these minimal texts, and this simple and moderate gesture has the power of resistance.

Night

Light before the ruins of this garden,

the air

that crossed cities and rivers

skims the surface. What

fatigue, what a beautiful fatigue

dissolves us?

On this June afternoon

of a leaden sky

I leave behind what I lived,

and the little margin that remains,

cold

it is

-we know-

a white flame

that will ignite a letter, a voice and

a calligraphy

with which you can write

that each one

In their own way,

known:

that the hours and the days,

that torrential rains

are just

passing events

that beyond

of its destruction,

storms can give strength

to the beings

immersed

in its roar

and that oblivion

that destroys everything

and sees everything

it does not have an end

that, despite everything,

the storms

they can become benign

like nocturnal animals

dissolving.

botany lessons

small yellow leaves

fall

on the edges of the lake.

Soon

strong wind

of autumn

will dismantle

the immense grass

green. The breeze

now

seems insignificant

but it is striking

his will.

♦ He was born in Paso de los Libres, Corrientes, in 1964.

♦ His poetry books include A few days, The end of summer, The delay Y minimal acts.

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