Ida Vitale turned 95 two weeks ago and is newly installed back in Uruguay, her native country, after four decades of exile. His activity, however, is far from being that of someone who retires. Yesterday I had planned to take part in the book fair in Maldonado, Punta del Este, before flying next week to Guadalajara (Mexico), 8,000 kilometers from Montevideo. There he will collect the FIL prize of literature in Romance languages. To that prestigious award was added yesterday the Cervantes, the most important of the Spanish language, endowed with 125,000 euros. She is the fifth woman to win it since the prize started in 1976. In 1980 she won the other Uruguayan of the list of winners, Juan Carlos Onetti. Since 1996, the unwritten tradition of alternating Latin American and Spanish authors had been established, but Vitale joined yesterday the Nicaraguan Sergio Ramírez, who received it last year.
"The Spaniards are as crazy as they were at the time of the conquest," exclaimed the writer when she received the news from Culture Minister José Guirao. Next April 23 you will have to go to pick it up in Alcalá de Henares. It will be another trip for a woman who has not stopped since she left her country on the way to Mexico in 1974. She was accompanied by her second husband, the poet Enrique Fierro. The first, and father of his two sons, had been the critic Angel Rama, who died in the famous plane crash of Avianca that took place at Madrid's Barajas airport in November 1983 and also claimed the life of Peruvian writer Manuel Scorza and the Mexican Jorge Ibargüengoitia.
Vitale and Fierro decided to leave Uruguay when the military dictatorship went from persecuting the urban guerilla of the Tupamaros to do it with anyone who seemed "remotely" left-wing. For example, by walking between books. Gone was a country that for decades had been, he says, a "perfect democracy" of which it is considered a fruit: good public education, without great social inequalities, nationalism or excessive machismo. Last night, she answered this diary by phone to add: "Uruguay has always known how to recognize female talent. I have never had the feeling that the women here have been in the background. Maybe it has to do with secularism. Since I was a girl there were professors and deputies. It is true that we have not had any female president, but I do not want women or men, "he joked.
If in her country she had been a student of José Bergamín, an exiled Republican with whom she has always felt in debt, in Mexico she had the friendship of Octavio Paz. Although he is eminently a poet, he premiered in 1949 with the Light of this memory-, He has published both prose and translations. In the book Affinity lexicon (1994) alphabetically ordered the words that make up his particular dictionary: from garlic to zeppelin through Borges, sadness, cat or madness. Reading: "Illusory mirror where the consumed consumes us". Poetry: "Words are nomadic; bad poetry makes them sedentary. " The reflection on the limits of the word crosses the poetry of Ida Vitale, who learned one thing from Juan Ramón Jiménez and two from Rubén Darío. From the first, to correct without stopping, to erase. From the second, to "say everything you wanted without sacrificing subtlety and beauty. And without vanity. " "The blank page / attracts like tragedy, / transpires like precision, / swallows like the swamp, / translates you as triviality does, / tricks you as only you can do it yourself". That's what some verses say Infinity reduction, title with which the publisher Tusquets made it known in Spain in 2002, when he was 79 years old. It is not uncommon, as he said in an interview to this newspaper, to consider that there is no Ibero-American literary community.
The same publishing house published in 2017, in edition of Aurelio Major, its Poetry gathered, a volume of 500 pages ordered according to the custom of the author: in reverse chronological order. There books are collected as Sleet minimum (2015), Trema (2005), Try the impossible (1998), Walking Oidor (1972), Everyone in their night (1960) or Given word (1953).
In 1984, Mexico changed to the United States. He lived in Austin until a few months ago he returned to Montevideo. In May 2016 her husband died ("someone who can not be replaced", said yesterday). He began to package his life while continuing to make and unpack. That same year he received García Lorca as before Reina Sofía (2015) and Alfonso Reyes (2014). Such a sum of prizes makes him funny: he imagines the jury calculating the age he has to arrive in time to do him justice.
They do not know his vitality or his ability to work: just a few months ago he published his "Mexican memoirs", Shakespeare Palace (Lumen Mexico). If her poetry is one of the most serious of today's lyrics, she is one of the poets with the finest humor in today's Parnassian. He always has several books on his hands and always finishes them. It also ends those who start reading. By discipline and, he acknowledges, by "poisonous spirit": to see how they collapse when he does not like them. This is how they are spent, with prizes and without prizes, Ida Vitale.