contributed by Erín Moure
With sorrow and the realization of great loss for world poetry we share the unexpected and lamented death of Bolivian poet, critic, journalist, researcher and editor Emma Villazón Richter on August 19, 2015 in La Paz, Bolivia.
Villazón, acclaimed poet and tireless cultural commentator and organizer, passed away on August 19, in the morning, at the age of 32, in the company of her partner Chilean poet and critic Andrés Ajens, following a collapse from a stroke two days earlier as she was about to board a plane to their home in Santiago de Chile from Bolivia, where she had attended the La Paz International Book Fair as an invited guest speaking on migrations and poetry.
Villazón worked tirelessly and gladly to connect the poetries and poets of Bolivia with those of Chile, and with poets in the USA and Canada. Her facility for building bridges, and her generosity and intelligence, were appreciated by all. She is above all considered by all who have read her work to be a singular and important voice in 21st century Bolivian and Spanish-language poetry.
She was co-editor, with Ajens, of the respected poetry magazine Mar con Soroche and had two poetry collections to her credit, Fábulas de una caída (2007, winner of the Premio Nacional Nóveles Escritores in Bolivia) and Lumbre de ciervos (2013, La Hoguera). In addition to her work as poet, organizer, critic, and editor, she was engaged in recent years in doctoral studies in Philosophy (Esthetics) in Santiago.
Most sincere condolences, sorrows, memories, fold-up skies and birds of poetry go from poets and poetry in Canada to Emma’s bereaved family in La Cruz de la Sierra, Bolivia, to her friends and colleagues, and to her beloved Andrés Ajens.
Parliament by Emma Villazón
Whoever can’t take off can’t take leave,
exit through the door real or unreal
and say “I’m off” in the tone of rain ascending the bird.
No one leaves easily, and perhaps not at all
from the biggest instances, above all
the place of origin, that tower ambiguous
and threatening, always gobbling identity dreams.
There’s no one who does not need time and friction
to grasp the struggle at the back of the tongue.
The point of most tension thus
does not reside in the quantity of scenes and fluttered embraces
or in which city is abandoned at noon, but lies in which
profiles, keys, shadow-feet and fold-up skies
we take with us, which
giants in smiles
—said she who takes leave
in the intersection of the bird