Spanish contemporary poetry is currently enjoying exceptional dynamism and vitality. This book presents a selection of Spanish peninsular poetry from the 1970s to the present day. It also presents an introductory study of the most relevant poetic trends and poetic groups of the period, followed by guided and close readings of each poem. The poetic selection is divided into sections and subsections in order to aid its pedagogical intent. It covers the poetry written during the transition to democracy; the emergence of poetry written by women in the 1980s; and the Spanish poetic field of the 1990s. The book also covers the poetry written at the turn of the new millennium and some of the youngest voices in Spanish poetry today. The first part deals with the poetry written in the twenty years or so that followed the transition to democracy in Spain, which although considered contemporary may be viewed by the young reader as firmly grounded in the past. In contrast, the second part considers the poetry that has been written and published in Spain during the new millennium. The visual arts and the prevalence of visual culture in the new millennium, in television, cinema or the plastic arts, also had a significant effect on the poetry being written. Purism and metapoetry were also interesting aspects that the poets of the new millennium explored. The current map of Spanish poetry is a very diverse one in which many aesthetics and authors converge.
Spanish contemporary poetry, as any other genre of literature, does not emerge from a literary and socio-historical vacuum. Rather it stems from the poetry written in Spain in the twentieth century, its literary tradition, and the socio-historical background in which it is embedded. The Spanish poetry of the early twentieth century combined traditionalist with progressive and elitist aesthetics. The novísimos 'coincided in poets search for a more contemporary, more artful, and more language-orientated poetry which would bring Spanish letters into the mainstream of European culture'. From the novísimos to the present day, Spanish contemporary poetry has undergone extraordinary developments, particularly in terms of topics approached and modes of expression. Notably, its trajectory and progression have not yet drawn to a close, and its current extraordinary vitality suggests a very exciting future with fascinating potential.
The novísimos were highly influenced by the mass media and new popular culture, and their literary influences stemmed mainly from outside Spain or from Spanish authors forgotten and ignored by the canon of the time. During the transition to democracy there were other voices that, linked to the novísimos, were also key to the cultural transition of the time. The official discourse on the Transicion portrays as one of optimism and positive transformation in which dialogue, agreement, negotiations and a bright future feature prominently in Spanish society: the moment in which Spain was able to finally exorcise its demons. Nueve novísimos poetas españoles included only one woman poet amongst the authors anthologised, the trend the novísimos started and the renewal they instigated in Spanish contemporary literature were key for the poetry written by women in 1980s.
Poetry by women in the 1980s was seen as a breath of fresh air, in the sense that it provided the reader with innovative experiences and different points of view. Ana Rossetti's poem in the anthology clearly engages with the subversion of gender conventions and objectifies the male body, challenging traditional models and embracing sexual freedom. Almudena Guzman's poem involves alterations to gender dynamics in a romantic relationship and draws on unashamed sexual innuendo despite an apparent innocence. Julia Otxoa's poem is an example of powerful gender-engaged poetry, and a composition that highlights the sexualisation and fragmentation of the female body and the consequences of this for women. Juana Castro's poem is a highly committed composition in terms of gender, as it deals with gender discrimination and inequality, drawing on the role of women in society in countries other than Spain.
The term poetry of experience was first employed in relation to Spanish poetry in 1959 by Jaime Gil de Biedma. A review of critical works and poetic publications throughout the last twenty years demonstrates that poesía de la experiencia is the label, and the trend, that has created the greatest controversy in Spanish contemporary literature. The so-called poesía de la diferencia was an assembly of poets that came together to claim their right to write poetry following a different aesthetic to the dominant one. Under the all-encompassing label of poesía metafisica readers could find epic poetry, Neo-surrealism, hermetic trends or poesía del silencio, all of them greatly different in terms of aesthetics. The arguments even prompted the publication of an anthology, El sindicato del crimen: antologia de la poesía dominante, behind whose pseudonym was the experiential poet Felipe Benítez Reyes.
The turn of the new millennium was a key event for Spanish poetry, and Spanish society in general. On the social and historical front, the Partido Popular, which had been in power since 1996, enjoyed an absolute majority in the 2000 elections. The terrorist attacks of 2004 in Madrid, known in Spain as 11-M, were a decisive factor in the following elections, won with an absolute majority by the Partido Socialista Obrero Español. In the poetic field, the younger authors facing the new millennium seemed to completely abandon the old skirmishes and confrontations so prevalent in the 1990s, despite still following a mainly commonsensical poetic expression. The visual arts and the prevalence of visual culture in the new millennium, in television, cinema or the plastic arts, also had a significant effect on the poetry being written. Purism and metapoetry were interesting aspects that the poets of the new millennium explored.
A plurality of voices and individual aesthetics that refuse to conform to specific groups are still one of the prevalent traits in the poetry. It is in the poetry of these very young voices that the reader of Spanish contemporary poetry can appreciate the new approaches that are currently in vogue. In poetry, there were voices of protest against the economic instability within the Indignados movement and anthologies such as Esto no rima or Poetas del 15M were published shortly after the movement began. Attention to daily life and experience, a reminder of the influence of poesía de la experiencia in contemporary poetry, is clearly visible in the poems by Virginia Canto and Vanesa Perez-Sauquillo. An interest in the authentic identity of the poetic voice and the desire to push poetry's symbolic and linguistic boundaries and potential continues, as the compositions by Pardo and Oscar Aguado illustrate.
This chapter presents the anthologies on Spanish contemporary poetry including El ciruelo blanco y el ciruelo rojo by Luis Antonio de Villena and Pasion, muerte y resurreccion de Propercio de Asis by Luis Alberto de Cuenc. 'El ciruelo blanco y el ciruelo rojo' perfectly embodies the aims of the novísimos: to modernise and renew poetry culturally and linguistically. Propercio de Asis, some of whose poetry Luis Alberto de Cuenca has translated into Spanish, was a classical poet acclaimed for his four books of Elegies, many of which focused on a female character called Cynthia. The chapter also presents Condesa Morfina by Leopoldo Maria Panero and Sobre el placer reciproco by Anibal Nunez. 'Condesa Morfina' is a long poem with a complex and challenging structure, a very apt example of the poetry written during the cultural transition to democracy and the disenchantment that emerged during those years.
This chapter presents the anthologies of Spanish contemporary poetry including Chico Wrangler by Ana Rossetti, Como me dueles, mujer by Julia Otxoa, Presos los dos by Almudena Guzman and Penelope by Juana Castro. 'Chico Wrangler' revolves around the expression of desire by the poetic voice towards a male figure whose only identity is that of modelling Wrangler jeans. The Como me dueles, mujer can be viewed as a gender-engaged composition, one that serves as a severe criticism of the idealisation of female beauty, how some women might behave or how women may be forced to behave by society. In 'Presos los dos', the female character does not act as a passive agent but rather establishes an equal relationship between both genders. The Penelope features many of the characteristics that epitomised the boom of poetry written by women in Spain.