Carlos Oquendo de Amat, 5 metros de poemas.
Wolfgang A. Luchting - Washington Stade University
Carlos Oquendo de Amat, 5 metros de poemas. Lima. Decantar. 1969. $50 m/n. Interest in this Peruvian poet (1905-36) and his only work, these five meters of poems, originally published in 1927, was awakened by Mario Vargas Llosa's mention of him in 1967 in the course of his "Discurso de Caracas" —included as a loose leaf in the book— as an example of the miserable fate that Latin American writers suffer in their anti-poetic society. The present edition is after forty-two years, the second. It has been welcomed all over Latin America is a true homenaje to Oquendo de Amat. The publishers-who, like almost anything or anyone that has to do with Oquendo, are mysterious; nobody knows who they are or where to find their office; in fact 5 metros is their first and only publication- have, as they mention specifically, "respected the typographical presentation of 1927." Copies of the first edition were something "whose possession... was a privilege for the initiated" who, for a long time now, have formed a cult around Oquendo and his book, ''a cult that, around Oquendo and his book, " a cult that one does not quite know why, had to be secret" (J.M. Oviedo, El Comercio, Lima, October 10, 1969).
The slim volume can be folded out to extend to the five meters of the title. Oquendo himself instructed the reader to "open this book as someone who peels a fruit." The poems are tender and somewhat hallucinatory, and remind one of Breton and, above all, of typographical arrangements of Apollinaire's Calligrammes. Thus one find. in the poem "New York," a sign proclaiming that "This morning is fort rent," or, in "Jardín mar," "It is forbidden to be sad. "On the last page, there is a biogrraphical note saying "I am 19 and have a wife that resembles a song."
Oviedo has pointed out some errata that should be noted here: "The title of the fourth poem is not 'Recla' but 'Reclam'; the poems were written between 1923 and 1925, not between 1923 and 1928, as it says in the end-note."
The poems art beautiful and playful at the same time, and will be treasured, in this new edition. probably as much as the first edition. Editorial Decantar should be thanked for
Wolfgang A. Luchting
Washington Stade University
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