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Arrivederci, Sr. Benedetti

I felt my heart skip a beat when I saw the news on Letralia. The beloved author, poet, critic, and humanitarian Mario Benedetti left this earth on May 17. He suffered for some time from lung and other problems. He died at home in Montevideo, Uruguay--a country where he was not able to make his home for many years of his life.

Here are some links where you can learn more about Sr. Benedetti:
Letralia a wonderful literary magazine published in Venezuela (Spanish). CBC News Story (English). A Wikipedia entry (English) gives an overview of his works and short biography. Click on the photo above to visit the Cervantes Institute page on Benedetti (Spanish).

Here's a video with Mario Benedetti reading, "And if God were a woman?". The poet uses Juan Gelman's question as the starting point for this poem. Warm and comforting as it is confrontational and startling, this poem speaks straight to Men about the Divine Feminine--not as a replacement for the Divine Masculine, but as its necessary and fulfilling complement.

Although I would have chosen different art for the first half of the video (the sketched female that "comes to life" during the first half does not speak to me at all of the divine), fortunately, the video leaps from this too "fashionable" and earthly portrait to more heavenly and artful ones. Or--forget the images; just close your eyes and listen to Benedetti's voice--it lands inside you. It is a voice that, once heard, cannot be forgotten. Something I can affirm, even as I cannot explain it. Haz clic aquí: Si Dios fuera mujer (vídeo) en el blog de Marna Luz.

To see what fellow Uruguayans are blogging about this literary lion, visit Global Voices, where you will find interesting Spanish comments with English translations, posted by Eduardo Ávila.

Here is a beautiful video with Sr. Benedetti reading his poetry, produced by Cadena de Lectores de Alfaguara in Mexico. It also includes excellent and evocative images of the poet.

This blog post, Don Mario no vino a la oficina by Jorge Gómez Jiménez may be my favorite "pedazo" que he encontrado en línea hoy, mientras buscaba "cosas de Don Mario" para--¿para qué?--no sé exactamente-- quizás para sentir que alguien más compartía mi "shock", la pura sensación de una pérdida personal. Creo que cuando encontramos consuelo y sabiduría en las palabras de un escritor en nuestros propios "tiempos revueltos", aquel escritor deja de ser un desconocido para nosotros. Es verdad que el lector no lo va a conocer en persona, pero sí, en un nivel profundo, se conocen personalmente el escritor y su lector--quizás sea el escritor que llega a "conocer" al "desconocido" lector, por la manera en que sus palabras llegan, tocan, y fortalezan la vida de la persona que hojea su obra. Nadie da la mano, ni besa la mejilla, pero los dedos tocan el papel que lleva la verdadera esencia del escritor y del ser humano. Encontré mi consuelo aquí, en esta nota que dice tanto con un mínimo de palabras.

Two more videos worth watching:
Palabras Verdaderas is a documentary on Benedetti's life. A good film, although the soundtrack online is not the best. If you can bear the less-than-optimal sound quality, however, you will be rewarded with a rich and detailed look at the poet's life.

You can see an excerpt of this video in which Daniel Viglietti and Mario Benedetti perform "Desaparecidos" (The Disappeared Ones). A moving and courageous work of words. It also includes a few more fragments from the longer documentary. Un buen aperitivo.

One of the lines in the video says, "Usted sabe que puede contar conmigo." And so it has been for thousands of readers who came to count on Sr. Benedetti as una voz de inspiración, una fuente de perspicacia y valor, un compañero para muchos, y en muchos sentidos. Uruguay's Ministra de Cultura María Simón said, "I don't think we should be talking of a loss, because he will be with us forever."

Que así sea.
Grazie e arrivederci, querido señor, espíritu, y escritor.

Flower image, copyright Ysabel de la Rosa


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