Notes on Vallejo and Redemptive Poetry
To paraphrase the late Salvadorian radical poet Roque Dalton, at a time when the present is charged with the urgency to act no matter what, César Vallejo’s poetry must be thought through, down to its last detail. No one understood better than Vallejo that to articulate the past historically means to seize a memory “as it flashes up at a moment of danger.” He hinted at the radical event that was already “tomorrow,” and the redeemable future tense that was in a permanent state of arrival. Encrypted in his poetry is the question: “¿Cómo se llama cuanto heriza nos?” (“What to call all that stands our wound on end?”). Today, like yesterday, we are grappling with the question of how to name and confront different forms of systemic violence.