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Advice from 1 Disciple of Marx to 1 Heidegger Fanatic

Mario Santiago Papasquiaro’s book-length poem defiantly insists: “Poetry: we’re still alive.” Insolent, ecstatic, perverse, enthusiastic; Santiago’s poem is a beacon for the pursuit of life via poetry. Santiago yields the poem to nothing short of life itself, which comes pouring into it from all quarters. He believes “a poem is occurring every moment” and it is the force of this constant presence which he unfurls upon the page. Santiago encourages that “life is still your poetry workshop” where there’s opportunity to be immersed within “the fucking awesome vermilion of the twilight.” His turbulent, clustered lines scatter across the page in an onrush of joyous declaration:

Mario Santiago Papasquiaro’s book-length poem defiantly insists: “Poetry: we’re still alive.” Insolent, ecstatic, perverse, enthusiastic; Santiago’s poem is a beacon for the pursuit of life via poetry. Santiago yields the poem to nothing short of life itself, which comes pouring into it from all quarters. He believes “a poem is occurring every moment” and it is the force of this constant presence which he unfurls upon the page. Santiago encourages that “life is still your poetry workshop” where there’s opportunity to be immersed within “the fucking awesome vermilion of the twilight.” His turbulent, clustered lines scatter across the page in an onrush of joyous declaration:

What a moon!
               like ? clipped nail
                         like ? glob of sperm
                                 suspended
             over the bristling back of the night

In their Translators’ Note, Heinowitz and Graman say: “Santiago uses the numeral ‘?’ in place of the impersonal pronoun (‘one’) and the indefinite article (‘a’ or ‘an’). In Spanish, the numeral ‘?’ is spoken in the same way as the impersonal pronoun (‘uno’) and the indefinite article (‘un’ or ‘una’).”

Heinowitz’s tightly condensed deft introduction explains that Santiago is the pseudonym for José Alfredo Zendejas, who inspired the character Ulises Lima in Robert Bolaño’s novel The Savage Detectives:

In 1975, along with several friends (among them Bolaño), he founded the radical Infrarealist poetry movement. Santiago and the “Infras” drew on a wide range of sources, from Baudelaire, Rimbaud, and Lautréamont, to Dadaism, Surrealism, Stridentism, and the Beats. Santiago was also influenced by the leftist, avant-garde Peruvian poetry movement Hora Zero and by Mexican writer-activists such as Efraín Huerta and José Revueltas (the pseudonym “Santiago Papasquiaro” comes from the town where Revueltas was born). For Santiago, poetry and politics were inseparable.

He lived peripatetically, “chasing the poet Claudia Kerik” around the world. “He was a thief in Paris, a fisherman on the coast of France, a political prisoner in Vienna, an agricultural day laborer in Spain, and a kibbutznik in Israel.” He eventually returned to Mexico City, pursued the use of hallucinogens, and wandered the city. A walking poem-come-to-life, his later years call to mind Bob Kaufman’s own in San Francisco. He left behind “over 1,500 manuscript pages at the time of his death” after being struck down by a passing automobile.

Advice from 1 Disciple of Marx to 1 Heidegger Fanatic is somewhat slight in length and depth but offers strong evidence of the appealing nature of Santiago’s work. There will no doubt be further publications as the immense amount of manuscripts is gone through and organized. Given the dizzying trajectory of his life, a biography also seems destined to land in print someday. The lively spirit found within his poetry will surely draw the interest of scholars. In the interim, the aggressive pursuit of an agonized lust for life which spills out from this poem, written in 1975 and “considered by some as the canonical poem of Infrarealism,” will have to suffice.

Santiago’s eye lingers over everything in sight, gobbling up fodder for poetic combustion. The poem lashes out into the world calling for exuberant delight over its sensuous descriptive details:

                      . . . right now it would only seem
         that Beauty is emotively radicalized
like multi-colored T-shirts that say: kiss me
                           from the most erogenous part of their torsos

The world drew Santiago outwards to embrace life with a frenzy, and he, in turn, wrote poetry that exhibits the world’s seductions right back.

Although experiencing a world where “Reality & Desire get thrashed / get chopped up / they spill out over each other,” he affirms “we are actors of infinite acts”; we need only rise up in song to answer the world in response. His poem is one long dalliance of entangled enticement to join in the visionary journey.

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