POETRY VIDEO: Antonieta Villamil: Poetry and song with a strong social message.

POETRY VIDEO: Antonieta Villamil: Poetry and song with a strong social message.

The surprising originality of Antonieta Villamil jumps off the page at first glance. “The break from received expectations” or the “none-grammatical” have been discussed as important elements of modern poetry (Shklovsky). The texture of her poetry continually demonstrates this tendency worked with great skill. The lyrical force is not loss; neither is lost the meaning that lies under the images.

There is an apparent contradiction in her poetry that creates an image with a strong impression in the reader, her poetry is felt, and it does not ask for logic nor explanation in the whole context of the poem, instead the meaning is left up to the reader.

Besides the technical experimentation, we find in Villamil the historical footsteps of her tormented country, that is, political poetry. Her poems of social and historical criticism are filled with a dense, metaphorical and paradoxical language. The message is not hidden; instead it requires the reader’s collaboration. Villamil lost a brother by disappearance in Colombia and this theme appears as a constant and persistent memory and testimony. 

Moreover it is evident the suffering of women; violence itself is profoundly explored in her poetry. She explores disturbing themes without losing sight of the beautiful no matter how horrible reality may be. In some poems Villamil reaches heights of erotic intensity and love which illustrates the incomparable music of her poems. The evolution towards more free forms —a mix of prose poem and verse— underlines her creative power, evermore firm and to the point.

Surprisingly, Villamil writes in English with the same ease and skill than in Spanish. She is the author of a wide and controversial work of poetry which explores visionary and testimonial territories; she gives to us an original offering in contemporary poetry. She repositions the woman poet carrying out a total affirmation of the expression of freedom. She reveals to us the word’s fire in which the determined voice of the woman poet has been molded. 

Her poetry is absolute proof that in the hands of a virtuoso poet, all loss that weighs down our lives can be put to rest through poetry, no matter how much it may hurt. We must welcome a young poet of extraordinary promise in the field of literature. Not only promise: the poetry of Antonieta Villamil is a mature contribution of the highest quality.

—Julian Palley, poet, translator, editor and essayist. University of California, Irvine; PEN West 1998.
—Translation Linda Rodríguez Guglielmoni, poet, writer, translator, editor and essayist. University of Puerto Rico, Mayagüez.