It is with great pleasure that I recommend the writings of Chilean-born Fernando Rodríguez.
Mr. Rodríguez is a well-kept secret within the inner circles of modern-day writers of poetry and prose. His work can be likened to the favorite boutique or club that the true "in-crowd" (e.g. those that really know and understand today's literature) quietly keep for themselves, out of fear that if the cat is let out of the bag EVERYONE will be sporting (or spouting) his style, words and thoughts .. and thus, the magic will soon be lost. Not to worry. Fernando Rodríguez is always two steps ahead of that which is in "vogue", and is at the same time forever reminding us of the true essence and drive of good writing: a solid understanding of the rudiments of classic modern literature and the ever-haunting function and history of the human dilemma .. and always seasoned (or often quite peppered) with the psychological glimpses of reality bordering tightly against the surreal. There is no escape from reality in the poetry and prose of this Señor Rodríguez; and there is no peace for the meek or the lame either. His unlikely images are so distinctive; so visually hard-hitting; so matter-of-fact that they must be accepted as the norm. One cannot read through his works mechanically without personal consequence. When one looks into his mirror, one sees not oneself looking into a mirror .. but experiences the mirror as a part of oneself.
His anti-flamboyant style is at once disarming. Is it affected, or is it pure genius? One almost gets the impression that he couldn't give a "damn" if you believe him or not .. and yet, he manages to convince us so strongly, and so immediately with his "of course, that is how it is imagery" that we almost robotically accept his presentation of assumed reality as our own - without question.
And just when we think we understand his style he challenges us further by taking it down to a whole new level -- he quite cleverly exploits the psychological aspects of assuming that one understands, and leaves the reader holding the bag and wondering: am I reading the author .. or myself? Without warning, Mr. Rodríguez commands us to succumb to the very questions we thought we were so clever in disguising and avoiding. Not merely who are you .. and who am I in relation to you; but when do you start/stop being/becoming me -- and I you .. and my perception of our surroundings?
How does he do it? He is apathetic towards "big words" or "cleverly-put-together" strings of words. He does not overembellish his adjectives, and he resists restricting himself (or us) with classic meter and rhythm. Like Jackson Pollack, he finds his own rhythm in the colorful images which seem almost randomly splattered over the page. But this randomness is but an illusion. No word, no image .. no sentence ... and no rhythm is randomly random in his poetry. Everything is meticulously measured to create an author out of the reader. You do not "read" his poetry or prose; you become it .. and in becoming it, you realize that you have always been it ............ and (perhaps) always will be it. Mr. Rodríguez' writing is so powerful that I sometimes get the feeling that it could possibly - if permitted to soar out-of-control - one day overpower even the author himself .. much like the portrait of Dorian Gray.
A few examples follow:
Partenogenesis de las manzanas.
un par de líneas al día
hasta que las palabras caigan de la rama
por su propio peso
y recobren su sentido
Si el acto de escribir
no fuera más que un juego de ecuaciones
simple sería el acto de morir
por el mero hecho de no haber sido capaz
de poner la resta y suma en palabras
del tiempo ya vivido
y del tiempo por vivir.
Qué operación más triste y dolorosa
Qué comercio más magnífico
con el aire que respiras y
los objetos que tu cuerpo toca.
Qué alcurnia más insolente la de morir
sólo por no haber sido capaz de escribir
un par de líneas al día.
O es que vamos o venimos yo no sé.
La falacia del ser por el estar.
La suma del tiempo restado
y del tiempo por morir.
Un día quizá
cuando los manzanos
estén todos patas arriba y
nos bebamos las aguas del mar
la ecuación maldita estará resuelta y
las palabras se harán agua en la boca de los locos
que locos se agitan imaginándose peces
en su danza de goce y vuelo
hasta hacerlas perder el sentido original
y exhaustos las dejen caer al líquido vacío
convertidas en microscópicas manzanas.
Prioridad de los ángeles.
No habrá compasión
en la mirada de los ángeles
ni temblor en las manos
que sostienen la espada
que implacable ciñe
sobre nuestras testas
la corona insostenible
de la duda.
As well as:
Tamayo pintor de lunas.
Bocas lunas que son sandías
El sol devorado por la luna.
Lunas bocas o cachos de toro
Y todo el sol en la sangre
Devorado por la luna.
Bocas que sonríen imitando la luna
Y el fuego de las vírgenes
Cuyos ombligos aún cerrados
Iluminan la mesa de antiguos dioses
Eclipsados por la luna.
Fernando Rodríguez' writing is fascination itself. It is dangerous ... to you .. to me .. to our perceptions of who we are, and to "what is". Fernando Rodríguez is certainly not merely a poet or a writer of prose. He is verily the art itself ... living, gasping, haunting .. and he will not disappear - even when we put/throw his book away.
There is one drawback - perhaps a major drawback - to Fernando Rodríguez' poetry: he writes almost exclusively in Spanish. If you do not understand Spanish, then learn it - if only to experience YOURSELF .. through the mirrors of reality and illusion presented by the masterful Fernando Rodríguez.
- Literary criticism by Adam Donaldson Powell (based upon Del Azar y la Memoria, Pentagrama, 2000, Chile, ISBN 956-8009-07-8).
Fernando Rodríguez (Chile/Norway) is the author of: DEL AZAR Y LA MEMORIA [Of Chance and Memory], Pentagrama, Chile, 2000, and CUATRO POEMAS Y TRES CARTAS (libros objetos), [Four Poems and Three Letters (book objects)], Ed. Circle of Oslo, 1966; as well as diverse Visual Poetry editions, Poetic Art Mail, Objects, in addition to Performances in Oslo, Barcelona and Stockholm. He has resided in Oslo , Norway , since 1984. See also Fernando's website: www.geocities.com/fernandorodriguezpoeta/