100 Haikus

100 Haikus

Valenti is a versatile man of letters, and throughout his career he has developed the most diverse literary styles: poetry, prose, essay or literary criticism. In the academic field, he worked for more than thirty years – from 1969 to 2003 – as a professor of Spanish literature in the Department of Comparative Literature at the University of Rome.

Valente Gomez Oliver, author of “100 Haikus”

One of his most personal hobbies is the field of haiku, which he has been keen to cultivate throughout his life. A haiku is a very short poetic composition, original to Japanese literature, consisting of only three lines and 17 syllables and a syntax of 5/7/5.

Western culture incorporated this poetic form into the literary heritage, especially in England, France and Spain: in Spanish it was practiced by authors such as Federico García Lorca, Antonio Machado and Juan Ramón Jiménez, and in Catalan by Josep Carner, Carles Riba and also Eugenie. d gold.

The brevity and simplicity of the poem makes it intense for the things it suggests rather than the things it says. Ramón Gomez de la Serna said that haiku were a kind of poetic telegram.

As we said, for Valenti, haiku was a literary weakness that he practiced ceaselessly. That is why we talked with him for a long time and he told us the secrets of this literary adventure.

His method of working has always been to write text and draw illustrations. He produced over 1,000 poems in some 14 small notebooks which he kept religiously and presented to small circles of friends and acquaintances.

He always presented these haiku on two sides: on one handwritten texts in two versions: in Catalan with fountain pen and capital letters, and in Spanish with thick pencil. On the other hand, he painted in watercolor, after conducting many preliminary tests until arriving at the result that best accompanies the text.

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He accumulated notebooks and poems until he reached this thousand, a number that made him conjure a story One Thousand and One Nights. That is why, in brief, the idea came about four years ago to select one hundred and present them in a book. But the project is not seen as a simple summary, but adds the great novelty of presenting the texts in the original Catalan and Spanish and translating them into five other languages: English, French, Italian, German and Japanese. For this, we must rely on the cooperation of very good specialist translators – poets, scholars, philologists – who are enthusiastically committed to the project, as they express in their comments at the end of the book. Thus, the original Japanese haiku, which has been translated into other languages, will now be found together with the Catalan haiku translated into the mother tongue.

Haiku in its various translations.

The choice made by Valenti does not meet any specific objective or time criteria. He has selected the most representative ones according to his personal tastes and compiled them into five (free) chapters. It is also presented on a double page spread: on the left the seven versions in the different languages ​​in machine printing and on the right the original handwritten texts in Catalan and Spanish with the corresponding illustration. It's all really handmade.

Edition responsible for lapis lazuli It has been well cared for, both for its graphic design and the quality of the paper used. It is hoped that the availability of poetic text written in different languages ​​will be widely accepted by haiku fans.

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The book will be presented next Thursday, March 21, at 7 p.m. in the Oriol Bohigas Hall at the University of Barcelona, ​​in an event in which seven readers will read some haiku poems in the seven languages, with musical interludes by the pianist. Barbara Granados.

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