"The sun had broken through the opaque veil of clouds and bathed a bend in the path with a pearled golden light... "-- Ruben Darío (Azul, 1888)
This last february I went to Nicaragua for the first time to attend at the V International Festival of Poetry that takes place in Granada Nicaragua, a colonial city with its full compliment of enchanting arquitecture and colors (see the doorways below). Even before setting out on the trip, the enchantment of Granada was already working inside me-- as it turns out since colonial times it has been linked with another Central American city close to my heart, Antigua, Guatemala, where I once had a very special extended visit, apart from the fact that it also forms part of my childhood memories. Arriving in Nicaragua, is already in and of itself, impressive from from the air, from the little window of the plane you can appreciate countless lakes and volcanoes which make up the most notable elements of its topography. Every volcano is crowned with a mysterious veil of clouds.
And when you talk about spending a week among poets from the four corners of the earth, drinking from the same poetic chalice, this implies nothing less than magic and enchantment, above all if it is in a country with the great cultural and poetic tradition that Nicaragua has. I had the enormous pleasure of meeting poets who I have always admired like Yvegeny Yevtushenko, Gioconda Belli, Anne Waldman, Ernesto Carednal and of meeting many others. Since the time of Ruben Darío (1867-1916), father of Latin American Moderism, this country has been recognized worldwide for its poetic soul. And it is true, I lived it, I felt it, and experienced it in the people, at every turn, obviously in the poets, but perhaps what impressed me even more were the children that from a very young age carry poetry in their veins, they want to be poets, they recited poetry, theirs and that of the great writers of their country, with tenderness, making their own. The children and the youth of Nicaragua have no equal in the world in their love of the word and its emotive and poetic expression.
In many respects, Nicaragua reminded me of the Mexico of my childhood, a country that gave me so much love. And by what I can see, Nicaragua has the force of character and pride to preserve it this way always, resisting certain discouraging pressures of modern times.
Participating in the V International Festival of Poetry in Granada was an unforgettable experience. You enter into a kind of collective ritual trance during this festival or more accurately this rite of poetry, one of the highlights of which was the great parade for Carnaval replete with dancers dressed as demons, folk dancing groups, musicians of all sorts and, of course, poets from all over the world! Walking throught the cobbled streets we all shouted with great emotion "Long live poetry!", "Long live Nicaragua!", "Poetry is the conscience of the Earth!" Here poets have a place of honor, and all of them, one by one, climb to the heights of the festive float and recite their poetry before the gathered crowd and this is repeated at every street corner until they reach the sea, well it is as if it were the sea, as it is an enormous lake, the Cocibolca, where the only fresh water sharks in the world are found. There, every year, at during the time of Carnaval, you will find them, the poets of the world bathed in a golden pearly light...