An homage to Ecuador’s Poet Laureate, Efraín Jara Idrovo

Mar 17, 2018 | 6 comments

By Tom Larsen

If you are interested in the Arts and Culture of Ecuador (In particular, Cuenca) don’t miss this opportunity to witness a tribute to one of Cuenca’s own.

Efrain Jara Idrovo

Efraín Jara Idrovo is considered the most important living poet in Ecuador. In 1999, Doctor Jara was awarded the Premio Eugenio Espejo, the nation’s highest literary honor.

March, 2018 marks the 40th anniversary of the publication of what many consider to be his most important work: “Sollozo por Pedro Jara-estructuras para una elegía”—“Sobbing for Pedro Jara-Structures for an Elegy.” The Biographical Dictionary of Ecuador has called it “One of the greatest and most beautiful national poems ever written.”

Doctor Jara wrote the poem as a way to deal with the tragic untimely death of his son, Pedro, in 1974, at the age of 18. The poem is highly experimental, in that it was printed on a single 60cm by 70cm sheet of paper, divided into 15 sections, and can be read horizontally, vertically, or diagonally.

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On the evening of Wednesday, March 21 at 7, Efraín’s son, Johnny Jara (a fantastic author in his own right), and Johnny’s wife, Su Terry (jazz musician and author) will present an introduction to the poem in Spanish and English at Teatro Sucre, Mariscal Sucre at Luis Cordero, across from the Old Cathedral. The event will also feature a distinguished panel of authors as well as a live music presentation, and will be an homage to Jara Idrovo’s life and work.

Efraín Jara Idrovo was born in Cuenca, February 26, 1926. His father, Jara Bermeo, was a merchant and exporter. His mother, Leticia Idrovo Aguilar, was a professor of Spanish and a poet. His mother introduced him to poetry at an early age.

He received a Bachelor of Philosophy Degree from the University of Cuenca and lived for a time in the Galápagos Islands, where he taught school.  Returning to Cuenca in 1958, he became editor of the literary magazine published by the Casa De La Cultura Ecuatoriana, “Guacamayo y La Serpiente.”

His first anthology of poems, “A Letter in Inconsolable Solitude” was published in 1946.  He did not publish again until 1963, and his subsequent work was highly experimental.  He published his anthology, “Poesía Última”—“Final Poems” in 2015, at the age of 90. The anthology contains his self-penned epitaph, in which he describes himself:

Surly falcon, solitary tiger
lying amongst ashes after taming the lightning.
He never lusted after fame or fortune,
neither success nor flattery clouded his mind.
In his distended and arduous life,
changing women as a tree changes its leaves,
he needed no other company
than music, books, and Oblivion.
For many years he lingered in Galapagos:
molten rock and desolation, but timeless.
He lived so long even the tortoises expired.
He sought to reveal beauty
and, on rare occasions, he loved poetry
and poetry loved him back.

In addition to the Eugenio Espejo Prize, Jara has also received the Premio Fray Vicente Solano. The Salon del Pueblo of La Casa de La Cultura (On Mariscal Sucre) was named for him in 2015.

Excerpt from “Sobbing for Pedro Jara”

The radiogram said:
“Your son was born. What should we call him?”
I was then in the islands
scattered procession of basalt
clots of astonishment
dry ganglions of eternity
chain of rocks in the ocean’s palm
faces sculpted by the ageless flames
loneliness
gleaming stubborn duration
bitter seminal odor of the tidelands
wandering
wondering
I said
while blood and seagulls shouted
he will be called pedro
pedrobonesofstone
pedrolaughterofrock
rock inflamed by the fire of life’s meteors

Read the complete poem (English translation by Doctor Cecilia Mafla Bustamante) here:

”Weeping for Pedro Jara – Structures for an Elegy”

Bibliography

Carta en soledad inconsolable (1946)
Tránsito en la ceniza (1947),
Rastro de la ausencia (1948)
Dos poemas (1963)
Sollozo por Pedro Jara (1978)
El mundo de las evidencias (1980)
In memoriam (1980)
Alguien dispone de su muerte (1988)
De lo superficial a lo profundo (1992)
Los rostros de Eros (1997)
El mundo de las evidencias 1945-1998 (1999)
Lírica ecuatoriana contemporánea (1979)
Poesía viva del Ecuador (1990)
La palabra perdurable (1991)
Poesía Última (2015)
Grandes Textos Líricos (2016)
Perpetuum Mobile (2017)

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