Perhaps because of his philosophical formation and teaching of philosophy, Carlos Vásquez occupies a unique place among Colombian contemporary poets. He writes poetry which challenges received thinking, and although he uses everyday words that we fully understand, he breaks up syntax and turns grammar upside down, producing in the reader a sense of estrangement. This is further reinforced by Vásquez’s abstraction of the physical world, forged not with concepts but in absurd images and situations.
Vásquez’s motto seems to be St. John of the Cross’s advice “to abandon the different modes of wisdom and pass to incomprehension.” But his is not a search for total obscurity, or in a mystical sense for total clarity, rather he exercises thought to excise the self, like Georges Bataille, his main poetic influence. The integrity of the subject — the poet’s own integrity — is always menaced. In his poems, Vásquez is constantly trying to disengage his ‘self’; he demands in the title of one his books, Strip me of myself.
Eroticism, which in Bataille is almost the equivalent of excess, in Vásquez is full of anguish and uncertainty. His purpose is to express the alienation of modern man through his journey into himself, in those moments of intimacy when he is really, completely naked. This feeling is heightened by the form of his poems in which meaning is expressly provisional. Meanings are left open in Ecoian fashion, and the reader can enjoy many different, although always hopeless and despondent, parallel readings.
Born in 1956, Carlos Vásquez has published four books of original and complex poetry, and two works of philosophical analysis on Nietzsche and Bataille. He has been professor of philosophy at the Universidad de Antioquia for several years, and has been awarded two prizes for his poetry. He is also an accomplished translator of French poetry.
El jardín de la sonámbula. Ediciones Casa de Poesía ‘Fernando Mejía’. Manizales, 1994.
El Oscuros Alimento. Ediciones Bolsillo Roto. Medellín. 1995.
Agua tu sed Editorial U. de A. 2001.
Desnúdame de mí, Editorial Universidad Eafit, Medellín, 2002.
Hilos de voz, Editorial El Tambor Arlequín, Medellín, 2004.
Eclipse de sol. Sobre Bataille. Ediciones Bolsillo Roto. Medellín, 1995.
El arte jovial. La estética de Nietzche, Editorial Universidad de Antioquia, Medellín, 2000.
International Poetry Festival of Medellín
Poems included in the anthology of the International Poetry Festival of Medellín