It was his first collection of poems. He was 24 years old and had the same dreams as those other 27-year-olds he had read so much about. He had also left his native Córdoba to conquer the Spanish capital and he walked his concerns and his desires in the gardens of the Residencia de Estudiantes where he had obtained a scholarship. He didn’t lack strength, imagination or desire, but he had a deep sensitivity that guided him by the need to know, to investigate, this constant search. Then came the big news: this first collection of poems, which he called “Una interpretación” (an interpretation), received nothing less than the Adonáis Poetry Prize, the 55th edition. It was the 55th edition. The author, Joaquín Pérez Azaústre.
Twenty years have passed since and what better way to celebrate this anniversary than to reissue the book. The editor of Esdrújula Editores, Mariana Lozano Ortiz, did not hesitate for a second. And so, two decades later, it appears again with its image on the cover, the illustration by José Luis Pajares, the preface by Pere Ginferrer and those profound poems that begin with “A beautiful girl awakened in 1939 after a long sleep”, and to which not a comma has been changed, assures us Pérez Azaústre, although he adds to these pages two beautiful epilogues by the poets Raquel Lanceros and Ana Castro. “I wanted it to have something special, I wanted it to have this triad of generations, three poets that I admire enormously”.
” An interpretation “, like the rest of his poetry books, is not a simple compilation of poems, but presents itself as a journey. Behind her, a story of her own beats to the rhythm of her extremely vital poetic voice, inherent in Joaquín and his poetry, and that is why with him, whether in Madrid, Paris or at the court of Camelot, the party does not never stops”, writes Ana Castro in this book. And she is absolutely right.
the Cafe Libertad 8, this mythical space in Madrid where the sung and recited word is breathed in every corner, was the setting chosen to remember this past which today becomes present again, to reflect on what happened during these 20 years, neither more nor less, in which Pérez Azaústre affirms that “during this time life has passed”. A path on which he has advanced, writing his poems and his novels, but also his personal history, with its joys and its sorrows, its curves and its straight lines, and “which has not been bad”, which makes that, perhaps, from the serenity he says that he is at peace and “that it is now a question of continuing to build”.
A life that opened the doors to this exciting literary world and which earned him new awards such as the Loewe, first the Creación Joven in 2006 for “El jersey Rojo”, and in 2011 for “Las Ollerías” and also the international Jaime Gil de Biedma award in 2013 for “Vida y leyenda del jinete eléctrico”. The latter, a collection of poems, enchanted the musician Alberto Ballesteros. And that’s where another project begins, a dream come true, a new album. And in 2018 he released “La canción del jinete eléctrico”, where the voices of the two come together, where the music caresses the poet’s verses to reach the hearts of readers, listeners.
It is therefore no coincidence that during this presentation there was a guest of honor on stage, who is also celebrating because he has just left “The party in peace”, 9 “pre-pandemic” songs, says Ballesteros, that “talk about almost everything that hasn’t existed in recent years”.
But before reciting, before daring to sing in the face of a treacherous and amusing invitation, Pérez Azaústre, who a few days before his confinement received his last prize for his latest novel “Atocha 55”, recounted the feeling that the re-reading of “Una interpretación” gave him: “It was a pleasant surprise to feel that I still recognize myself in this book”. Perhaps because it is full of emotions, of feelings, of the sadness of a horrible time lived in this Spain, of the need for light and color, for a structure, of those memories of youth, of this journey… that of life itself, which sometimes returns, unwittingly, to these paths already traveled to rediscover them, to discover others… May this journey continue, may it invite us to follow it , may the journey never end…
“Like a revelation, the poet in his youth knew how to connect with naked emotion, with eternal meaning, with the memory of literature to give us diaphanous, wise, transparent verses, which seemed to spring like a prodigy from the most secret recesses of the human heart “. These are the words of Raquel Lanceros in her epilogue, which could well sum up what we experienced in Libertad 8.
And then, after the lyrics, music and verses: Has contado despacio/las ruinas que quedaron/de tu casa de mármol tras el fuego (You counted slowly/the ruins that remained/of your marble house after the fire). This is how Pérez Azaústre began, with this evocation of a civil war that has not yet healed its wounds, to travel again, with his friend José Luis Rey, the streets of his youth in Madrid until the “Parada de la calle Velintoria”, this house of Aleixandre “full of marvelous ghosts”, reminding us that his passion is cinema and evoking Rita Hayworth, “who was the reason why my mother let me go to bed later” , with its loneliness and tenderness, or take us to the city of love with the poem “Que me integerren en París”, verses, as Ana Castro says, that show us the poet who, despite everything, evokes the light.
Let no one cry for me and wash my name with champagne. May this party never end / May they bury me in Paris.