Juan Garrido Salgado immigrated to Australia from Chile in 1990, fleeing the regime that burned his poetry and imprisoned and tortured him for his political activism. He has published five books of poetry and his works has been widely translated. Juan has also translated works by a number of leading Australian poets into Spanish. He come back from In July 2019, Juan did a poetry tour to Nicaragua, Mexico and Cuba where he read from the new book When I was Clandestine published in Australia by Rochford Press and also he share the Spanish translations of aboriginal poets such Lionel Fogarty Ali Cobby-Echermann and Samuel Watson and Robbie Walker
Dialogue with Samuel Lafferte in Australia.
You're more than a shadow of me walking,
yours was the name I took
as a militant poet in Moscow.
Yes, I read verses in your name at Red Square
beside the tomb of Lenin,
drinking and talking we read Marx's Das Kapital.
To the woman who was in the dark homeland.
From the nearby Soviet bar at the School of KOMSOMOL,
where we read the verses of Roque Dalton and Sergei Yesenin.
After the return
we walked together into underground struggle
as twins childhood
as a fellow fighters
sharing the same prison and the same blood in the torture.
Shared notebooks and pencil
the sweet and sour kiss of the lost –
In the hours of rest necessary
gradually the verses were born
and since then I wonder
who these poems belong to
Samuel Lafferte or the other I am even today,
an encounter with Samuel Lafferte
when we read together for the first time
About Headaches by Roque Dalton.
In another part of the city
they were a pack of drunken poets
in a row at midnight, crying over a love poem by Pablo Neruda
in the gutters at the Alameda Avenue & Plaza Brazil.
While Samuel and I
attended a clandestine meeting
with young militants and crazy
and Samuel called for silence and read some of
Under capitalism our heads hurt
and our heads are ripped off.
In the revolutionary struggle the head is a time bomb
Then we all went out to paint the walls against the dictator.
Faust: and now, here I am what I am, and I don’t think I am something else
I think I’m writing
a poem about nothing, for no one.
I do not know whether I should start making a hole in the blank page
and dig, so that the verses will appear,
or burn the sun in that line that someone wrote
on the wall riddled with bullets, blood, and a corpse;
riddled with abandon and loss of everything.
In that bombed city
which appears from time to time while I’m reading with a coffee
or in the yawn of the news,
at dusk I start flying wrapped in the blanket
of a nightmare, of the days spent walking
in my broken shoes, worn from travelling but getting nowhere
without entering a doorway or looking through the window-frame of dawn.
Tonight, I found a place to sleep,
a piece of furniture dragged by the hurricane waters to this place.
The night is today, the night with nothing more to say,
I write this poem in a language
you do not understand, not a fucking sound, nor a fucking pronunciation,
I write without any reader,
not even for the blindness of Borges when I read this line:
When I write something, I have the feeling it pre-exists
* from a sketch of ‘My Faust’, Act II, Scene 5, in Selected Writing of Paul Valéry
When I was clandestine
Víctor Hugo Romo and Samuel on the visit they made to Nicanor Parra in 1979 … In the house of La Reina.
What I do want to make clear: I think Nicanor Parra should have won the Nobel.
It is cruel to make him wait so long; to his 103 is an antipoetic feat.
I have never been devoted to his poetry, but his irreverent verses delight me.
My verse is born by the nights of the ‘curfew.’
I come from the población and never went to University,
although I was part of the Scaffold Literary Workshop.
When I was clandestine I was sent to study at Komsomol University in
we walked through Red Square and with the solemnity of the militant saluted the leader of the Bolshevik Revolution as one greets a father.
When I fell into the hands of the CNI*, I had been clandestine for some time; but my luck was such that nobody suspected my international studies.
Otherwise I would’ve been charcoal
on the grill of the “House of Torture of the Borgoño.”
When I was clandestine I read poems by Vladimir Mayakovski
translated into the language of Violeta Parra; even if I tried to read his poems
on the edge of his bed in that room, when I whispered something intimate in the ear
of the interpreter at the house of Vladimir, so that we could take a siesta in the poet’s bed,
without her knowing that I too was a poet.
When I was clandestine my role in those days of return to the mother country, 1984
was to be an invisible or rather a ‘simple man’, such as Neruda’s Ode
that we dramatized there between 1978 and ’79.
Yes, the street theatre of that time was a little sun warming
the fear that fell in our lives on that long dark night.
When I was clandestine.