The poet, essayist and translator from Gran Canaria Justo Jorge Padrón died yesterday at the age of 77, at the La Paz Hospital in Madrid where he was hospitalized for coronavirus. Canarias Literature Award in 1977, he is one of the most prominent figures in contemporary Canarian lyrical poetry and a benchmark for the poetic generation of 70 in Spain. His extensive work has been translated into 44 languages, and was repeatedly presented by numerous institutions and universities in Europe and America as a candidate for the Nobel Prize in Literature.
Justo Jorge Padrón was born on October 1, 1943 in Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, in the 60s he studied Law and Philosophy and Letters at the University of Barcelona, a stage in which he began to interact with young poets and with people passionate about writing. . He returned to his hometown in 1966, where he practiced law for eight years. During this period he published his first poems in various literary supplements and came into contact with authors of the stature of José Agustín Goytisolo, who included him in his anthology Nueva poesía española in 1968. Six years later, in 1974, he left the legal profession to dedicate himself to full to poetry, and two years later he was chosen by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Institute of Hispanic Culture to represent the new Spanish poetry on a tour through fifteen Latin American countries for seven months.
“Aleixandre or García Lorca qualified the impulse and the significance that he was looking for to achieve a personal voice”
Among the books that influenced his poetic training are from Elegías de Duino by Rainer Maria Rilke, La destrucion o el amor by Vicente Aleixandre, to Twenty love poems and a desperate song by Pablo Neruda, and Gypsy Ballads by Federico García Lorca. “They qualified the impulse and the significance that I was looking for to help me get a personal voice,” he said on more than one occasion.
Justo Jorge Padrón strove to write a substantive and synthetic poetry that gave equal importance to language, human emotion, the philosophical concept, and the freedom of the imagination.
“I am convinced that poetry is the memory of light, a radiance that sings and illuminates the moments that we have lived and with which we are still going to dream. It is an emotion that runs through the compass rose of the poem, and arises when the mysterious astonishment of life overflows in the word, ”he wrote in March 2020.
Throughout his career he has been recognized with more than 60 awards and distinctions on five continents, including the International Prize of the Swedish Academy (1972), the Boscán Prize (1972), the Fastenrath Prize of the Royal Academy. Española (1976), the Brussels Gold Medal (1981); the Madras International Literature Prize, India (1982); the Gold Medal of Chinese Culture (1983); o The Swedish Writers Association Award for the best European poetry book of the year for The Circles of Hell in the Swedish version of the poet and academic Artur Lundkvist, a book that, translated into 32 languages, is considered by many specialists as the most popular collection of poems. translated from the Hispanic world.
“Poetry is the memory of light, a glow that sings and illuminates the moments we have lived”
It was also recognized with the Europe Prize for Literature (1986), with finalists being Graham Green, Mario Lutsi, Andrei Voznesensky and Alain Bosquet; as well as the International Prize for Literature of Sofia (1988), and the Golden Crown of the International Festival of Struga, Macedonia, (1990), an award that Neruda and Alberti hold only in Spanish. And in the local sphere, in 1993 he obtained the Centennial Culture Award from the Diario de Las Palmas for the most distinguished work of the Canarian Culture of the 20th century; in addition to the International City of Las Palmas de Gran Canaria Award (1995) for his book Rumor de la agonía; and the Canary Islands Prize for Literature in 1997 for his work as a whole.
As a curiosity, in 1977 he collected in Stockholm the Nobel Prize for Literature awarded to the poet Vicente Aleixandre, of which he was his translator into Swedish with the collaboration of the Chairman of the Nobel Committee, Artur Lundkvist.
He has been appointed academic by the Mallarmé Academy in Paris (1983); by the Academia Internazionale di Pontzen in Naples in 1983; and by the North American Academy of the Spanish Language in New York in 1986, among others. The President of the Canary Islands Government awarded him the Grand Cross of the Canary Islands in 2000 for the outstanding contributions and name he has achieved for the Canary Islands.
He has published more than 150 books, including 25 collections of poems, 17 anthologies of his work and 27 essays.
His latest works include Complete Poetry, 1965-2000 (2000), Hespérida. Universal song of the Canary Islands (2005), Hespérida II. La gesta colombina (2008), El latido del mundo, Antología (2010), as well as El arte del poema (2015), which the poet himself considered his best work and which includes a single poem of 1,300 verses and was published by the Editura Universul de Rumanía in four languages simultaneously: Spanish, Romanian, English and Russian.
“I hope that health accompanies me to finish ‘Hespérida’, to which I have dedicated many years and effort”
The most recent were The Face of the Llama (2015-2018) whose prologue was written by Federico Mayor Zaragoza; And in 2019 he published, with a foreword by the journalist Luis María Ansón, the third volume of the Hespérida saga, a set of ten epics of more than 100,000 verses on the history of the world “through the Universal Song of the Canary Islands”, a kind of epic chronicle -lyrical “and at the same time visionary of the extraordinary first voyage of Magellan and Elcano around the world, where the hitherto unknown passage was discovered, from the Atlantic Ocean to the Pacific, through a fabulous 550-kilometer strait, which although then baptized All Saints, then he was called, in honor of its discoverer and more justly Fernando de Magallanes ”, said the poet in one of his last interviews published in LA PROVINCIA / DLP. In it he expressed his desire to carry out a saga of nine or ten volumes that would reflect the history of the world through the Canarian perspective or in its greatest perspective from Hispanidad, an unpublished project in the History of Universal Literature. “I hope that health accompanies me and allows me to finish this project to which I have already dedicated many years and a lot of effort to create poetry,” he said.
In this last stage, Justo Jorge Padrón described his poetic work as “analyzed astonishment”. “I specialize my heart in the self-absorbed contemplation of the world, in being able to understand the paradoxical dialectic of history, in visualizing the silent examination of life capturing the emotions and dreams of humanity because for me poetry is the marveling beat of existence and resembles a subtle singing glow. I could not live without dreaming or breathing it ”.
“Poetry is the marveling beat of existence. I could not live without dreaming or breathing it “
His latest book Poems to Cleo, is a love song towards his wife, Kelopatra Filipova, one hundred poems of intense passion, qualified by experts as a single infinite poem. “The cosmos shows me the face of a woman. / She is all night in an infinite kiss. / Blue eyes, skin that burns in quartz, unleashed hair, golden forest / for the mere extension of the universe.// Your voice laughs and it is all heaven who invokes me / with your girlish laugh. I see it in every star / flowing into my eyes with a river of light. // She turns the hours into a diaphanous vertigo, / in the boiling tenderness that reaches me / and gives me the life I have sought, / in the brightness of the names that sustain happiness ”.
“The love of my life is gone”
It’s over. The love of my life has left me, my only husband, my traveling companion. After 35 years, 24 hours a day together, the damn COVID separated us forever at the Hospital de la Paz in Madrid. The future was cut short for us, we were left with many unfinished projects. But I promise you, my love, that I will always fight to defend your dreams, to expand your great poetry that made so many readers happy throughout the world. Until your last moments I will fight with your enthusiasm for your valuable work. Your name will always be written in golden letters in the world of international literature. May the stars accompany you and illuminate your way to eternity, my love! You left me with a lot of sadness in my soul to continue living and suffering your painful absence. I love you. Until forever my love! Send me from time to time a poem with all the love you showed me in life. Your Macedonian girl who will always hold you in the heart. Your Kelo.