Gabriel Jaime Franco is a member of the Board of Editors of the review Prometeo and of the Managing Committee of the International Poetry Festival of Medellín. He has published three books of poems, but the two books from which he selected the poems for this page are unpublished.
I remember a sunny day when Franco joined a group of friends, crying and saying that he had seen God, and how we tried in vain to gain access to his epiphany. Always intense, his first poems were the poems of a young man trying to find a place in the world – profound and sorrowful prose poems expressing a boundless solitude. He was trying to define himself, while we all were just detached companions, but our generation saw itself in that vertiginous prose where little by little his childhood and the omnipresence of God appeared. They were a God – a word that for him should always be written with a capital letter, like a menacing eye – that he condemned and a childhood to which he did not want to return. But through the sadness of his poetry gradually arose, sharply clear, the loving look at the other, at the war that even God could not stop, at the maimed children, the insanity, the rivers of blood, the country – slowly abandoning his own circumstances to embrace others, to ask himself the anguished question of how and where to find our voice.
His poetry consists more of questions than of answers, and – it seems to me – this explains in a deeper way a human condition familiar to us: the condition of those who doubt, and who ask themselves about this game of reflections and mirrors that we call reality. Let those who are sure and have answers write aphorisms or guide the masses. In our conversations we always go back to the presence of the miracle, of poetry against all erosion, all disasters, all the spilling of blood, to tell us of the pain and the wonder of the world, the exalted and serene consciousness of being alive. The word, its offerings and its uselessness, the miracle of life without a God who forces us to hide under the bed from his irate eye, and who feeds our abandonment and our despair, and our yearning for light.
As he made his way in his poetry, he began to merge his name with all other names, with all men and women. The simple life, suffering, tranquil joy in the amorous consciousness of the ego were all-important, to solve in this manner the enormous question of how to write poetry in a murderous era. His is a search for wholeness, where the guilt that has accompanied him for so long is left behind, tied up, as it were, as something in the poet rises to embrace others in his daily joys and miseries. And thus, through his poetry, we realize that this search is not at all useless, but that the burden is his. So it is better to end with his own words, that describe him in his joy and his anguish: “Two contrary voices flow from me: the miracle and the cleavage.”
The memorable earth (fragment II)
The memorable earth (fragment IV)
The memorable earth (fragment V)
The memorable earth (fragment VI)
The memorable earth (fragment VIII)
The cleft voices (fragment II)
The cleft voices (fragment VIII)
The cleft voices (fragment X)
The cleft voices (fragment XI)
The cleft voices (fragment XII)
En la ruta del día. Ediciones Otras Palabras, 1989.
La tierra de la sal. Colección de Poesía PROMETEO, 1994.
Reaprendizaje del Alfabeto. Premio Nacional de Poesía Fuego en las Palabras.
El paso accidentado
Review by Edgar O’Hara of En la ruta del día
Poems by Gabriel Jaime Franco
From the International Poetry Festival of Medellín