THE BRITISH LIBRARY

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2 posts from February 2016

16 February 2016

On the outskirts of the world: Movimiento Hora Zero

Movimiento Hora Zero was an avant-garde poetry movement that emerged from Peru during the 1970s. Founded by Jorge Pimentel and Juan RamĂ­rez Ruiz, the young writers anticipated a form of poetic expression that rejected what they saw as the pompous European-influenced canon of Peruvian poetry and instead channelled the language, politics, and everyday experience of contemporary Peru. Their manifesto, Palabras Urgentes (1970) tells of a need to

manifestarnos como hombres libres y como escritores con una nueva responsabilidad, con una nueva actitud ante el acto creador, ante los hechos derivados de una realidad con la que no estamos de acuerdo.[1]

[speak out as free men and as writers with a new responsibility, with a new approach to the creative act, in the face of events derived from a reality with which we disagree.]

 HZ1    HZ2
Hora Zero Oriente: materiales para una nueva Ă©poca (1970) [Shelfmark: X.902/1157]

As might be expected from the urgency of their manifesto, the movement materialised at a critical moment in Peruvian history. Mass migration from the Andes to the coast over the preceding decades had resulted in a huge increase in the urban population and this in turn meant that the previously marginalised customs and traditions of the sierra were now decidedly present within the metropolitan centres of Peru. The overthrow of Fernando BelaĂșnde’s government in October 1968 by General Velasco’s left-wing military regime led to a project of sweeping reforms which would be instituted under the term Perunaismo. There was a definite sense that the Peruvian elite were being challenged, and it was certainly a time of great social and political flux. This is exemplified by the fact that a number of the poets associated with Hora Zero had attended the Universidad Nacional Federico Villarreal, which had been founded in 1963 as part of a programme to reorganise the Peruvian education system, and this naturally placed them in opposition to the radical literary movements of earlier generations, which had tended to centre around the ancient and prestigious Universidad Nacional Mayor de San Marcos.[2]

  Ramirez Ruiz 1

Juan RamĂ­rez Ruiz Un par de vueltas por la realidad (1971) [Shelfmark: X.900/13683]

Although the Hora Zero poets sought to negate much of the Peruvian literature which had come before them, there were certain of their forebears whom they considered kindred spirits in that they too were striving for a literature that could both represent and help shape a pluralist Peruvian culture, distinct from the political project of indigenismo, which ostensibly sought to improve the lives of marginalised Peruvians, but that as Marie-Chantal Barre puts it “officialised the disappearance of Indians as Indians, instead recognising them only as peasants."[3] One such is example is the work of author JosĂ© MarĂ­a Arguedas.

Although he was heavily criticised in certain quarters for his romanticising of indigenous people, Arguedas certainly seems to have made an impression on the Hora Zero writers. In an interview from 2011, Pimentel and fellow Hora Zero member Tulio Mora make reference to Arguedas’s 1964 novel Todas las Sangres, which attempts a comprehensive portrayal of Peruvian cultural life, and his 1962 prose-poem Tupac Amaru Kamaq Taytanchisman, a reflection on indigenous migration from the sierra to the city published in both Quechua and Spanish. Despite the censure that Arguedas received from some corners, the Hora Zero writers clearly felt that there was something to be salvaged from his project, and his writings would take their place alongside CĂ©sar Vallejo’s Los Heraldos Negros and JosĂ© Carlos MariĂĄtegui’s Siete Ensayos de InterpretaciĂłn de la Realidad Peruana as works from which the movement would draw inspiration.

  Arguedas 1   7 ensayos 1
José María Arguedas Todas las Sangres (1964) [Shelfmark: X.900/7132] and José Carlos Mariåtegui Siete Ensayos de Interpretación de la Realidad Peruana (1928) [Shelfmark: 8025.d.40]

Though these writers may have been similar in spirit, the Hora Zero writers still felt that there was much to be done in reorienting their poetics towards the everyday experience of ordinary Limeños. In this respect, one of the seminal works to come out of the movement is En los extramuros del mundo (1971), a collection of poetry by Enrique Verastegui. Published when he was just twenty years old, the poems encapsulate the bustling energy, confusion and absurdity of the city:

Yo vi caminar por calles de Lima a hombres y mujeres

carcomidos por la neurosis,

          hombres y mujeres de cemento pegados al cemento aletargados

                     confundidos y riendose de todo.[4]

[I saw walking the streets of Lima men and women

eaten away by neurosis,

cement men and women stuck to the cement lethargic

confused and laughing at everything.]

Later in the 1970s, the movement’s principal figures would spend time outside Peru in both Europe and other places in Latin America before Hora Zero gained renewed momentum  in the second half of the decade. In the meantine, Tulio Mora would visit Mexico, where the movement found a receptive audience amongst the infrarrealismo movement led by a certain Roberto Bolaño, whose first manifesto includes a fitting tribute to the young radicals from Peru:

Nos antecede HORA ZERO[5]

[Our ancestors HORA ZERO]

- Laurence Byrne (with thanks to Mercedes Aguirre and Barry Taylor)

Notes

[1] Pimentel (1970: 9)

[2] Vilanova (1998: 7)

[3] Barre (1985: 53)

[4] Verastegui (1971: 13)

[5] Madariaga Caro (2010: 146)

References / further reading

Barre, Marie-Chantal IdeologĂ­as indigenistas y movimientos indios, 2d ed. (Mexico: Siglo Veintiuno Editores, 1985)

Bolaño, Roberto "Déjenle todo nuevamente. Primer manifesto del movimiento infrarrealista"(1976) in Madariaga Caro, Montserrat Bolaño Infra. 1975 - 1977: los años que inspiraron Los detecitves salvajes (Santiago: RIL, 2010)

Huamán, Miguel Angel “La Rebelion Del Margen: Poesia Peruana De Los Setentas” in Revista de Crítica Literaria Latinoamericana 20.39 (1994): 267–291

Pimentel, Jorge and RamĂ­rez Ruiz, Juan "Palabras urgentes" in Pimentel, Jorge Kenacourt y Valium 10 (Lima: Ediciones del Movimiento Hora Zero, 1970)

Juan RamĂ­rez Ruiz Un par de vueltas por la realidad - See more at: http://www.typepad.com/site/blogs/6a00d8341c464853ef0120a63638e0970c/compose/preview/post#sthash.JxJ3WZOc.dpuf

Verastegui, Enrique En los extramuros del mundo (Lima: CMB Ediciones, 1971)

Vilanova, NĂșria “The Emerging Literature of the Peruvian Educated Underclass” in Bulletin of Latin American Research 17.1 (1998): 1-15

03 February 2016

The Brooklyn Dodgers

Fan devotion to a local sports team is common throughout the world but only in America do the faithful face the prospect of the object of their emotions being uprooted and moved thousands of miles across the country.

The recent news that the St Louis Rams of the NFL are heading to Los Angles is just the latest in a long list of sports teams to move cities: since 1950 forty one teams in America’s big three sports – football, basketball and baseball – have re-located. Next year marks the sixtieth anniversary of the most notorious relocation of all: when the Brooklyn Dodgers left New York for Los Angeles just two years after winning the World Series. Bitterly opposed at the time, it is a move mythologised as the betrayal of the people of Brooklyn, an act of treachery by the team’s owner which precipitated the economic decline and urban decay of New York’s largest borough.

Dodgers sheet music

[Shelfmark VOC/1957/ROSS]

The Mike Ross baseball collection, which the Library acquired in 2014, is rich in material celebrating the Dodgers’ Brooklyn years and lamenting the move to California. Among several books which take a fan-based view of the period, historian Doris Kearns Goodwin’s memoir Wait Till Next Year (New York, 1997; shelfmark YKL.2015.a.11716) – which begins, ‘when I was six, my father gave me a bright red scorebook that opened my heart to the game of baseball’ – evokes the club’s ties to its community and the sense of the end of an era when it left town. The seminal scholarly work on the relocation, Neil J Sullivan’s The Dodgers Move West (Oxford, 1987; shelfmark YK.1988.b.992), lays the responsibility for the upheaval not so much on the demonised Dodgers’ owner, but on the machinations of local politicians thousands of miles apart.

The Dodgers were famous for their aggressive style of play and the collection contains a copy of The Dodger Way to Play Baseball (1954; shelfmark pending) by Al Campanis, who went on to become the general manager of the club. His book effectively became a manual for coaches on how to play the hard-running, defence-orientated, pitching-based game typical of Dodgers’ teams. And of all the Dodgers’ pitchers none was greater than Sandy Koufax, a Brooklyn native and arguably the most prominent Jewish athlete in the history of American sports, who famously sat-out a World Series game because it fell on Yom Kippur. The signed copy of his autobiography, Koufax (New York, 1966; shelfmark pending) recounts his extraordinary career, beginning in his home borough in 1955 and ending 2,800 miles away a decade later as a Dodger on the west coast.

Sandy_Koufax_1961

Sandy Koufax. Image believed to be in the public domain. (Wiki Commons)

By Chris Birkett, Masters student at the Institute of North American Studies at King's College London.