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“Most films are bad, but very bad novels are written and they are literature.”

Source: El Comercio.
Found By: Translation by: Ollie and Zoe

Many thanks to Ollie and Zoe for translating the report from El Comercio about Viggo's poetry reading in Aviles on 14 January 2022.


Almost a thousand people attend the Niemeyer for a poetry reading in Spanish by the actor and film director Viggo Mortensen.

by Pablo A. Marín Estrada

The North American actor Viggo Mortensen managed to bring together yesterday at the Niemeyer Auditorium the vast minority which Juan Ramón Jiménez spoke of (almost 1000 people, tickets sold out) to listen to his verse in Spanish and his opinions about poetic creation, an aspect of the actor who gave life to Aragorn in The Lord of the Rings that certainly is unknown by many of his admirers and that he has cultivated, almost in secret, in parallel to his artistic career. The author of various poetry collections like What Cannot Be Written (2018) and Eudaimonia, the New Yorker isn't prodigal with public readings and his recital in Avilés reached almost the rank of a world premier, according to the organizers of the Word Cycle. The writer and professor at the University of Oviedo, Javier García Rodriguez was charged with conducting the interview.

The North American came out on the stage demonstrating that stage presence works just as well for poetry, and while unfolding a disorderly arsenal of papers on the podium after greeting the audience, he fired off, in "captatio benvollentiae" style [trans.ed. A rhetorical statement to capture the good will of the audience], a casual "This is what I'm going to read, but don't worry. If I see you're snoring a lot, I'll shorten the adventure." It was not necessary. He managed to arouse the interest of the audience based on ingenuity, simplicity and intelligence in the reading of his poems and the pearls he was inserting. "One writes to try to understand what happens to you in life," he began by saying. And about the art of writing poems, "A poem is the record of a failure, a homemade bomb that can reach you," but also warning about excessive reliance on the thought-out word. "Poetry must be freed from poems and above all from poets," he said. He concluded his reading with a moving short elegy to his little dog Brigit: "That they let you keep on dreaming and forgive you for not paying attention to where your soul left."

His conversation with García Rodríguez ended up even juicier. "As a child, I began writing very short little stories; I wanted to invent stories like the ones in the books and I read them to my mother; it was a way of communicating with her. It's what I continue doing in some way," he confessed about his literary vocation. And about his own way of approaching writing, he revealed that "When writing a poem or making a film, to know that I'm on the right track, I need to feel free, abandoning myself to what comes out and then start refining, removing or putting in words like shots in editing a film. You have to alternate between disorder and precision."

The moderator wanted to pursue the cinematographic streak to ask him if a script was literature: "To me it is, but it can be very bad literature, because in general most movies are bad, very few are good. Also very bad novels are written and they are literature." He revealed some of his poetical references: Borges, Pizarnik, Cortazar ("His stories have a sense of humor and are very clever. I like that."), Walt Whitman and Leopoldo Lugones ("the Latin American Whitman"). There was also time for inside joking: "In Captain Fantastic, there´s a character who plays guitar, drinks mate and has a flamenco box drum. Was that your idea?" queried the moderator. "Not the drum box," he answered. He still had in reserve another pearl on the gift of the muses: "The poem is a lie but it captures something that is true."

© El Comercio. Images © Marieta.


Source: Youtube.
Found By: ollie

I missed this one and thank ollie for the find a while back.
Wow! Wow! Wow! So glad that he finally uses YouTube for his poetry reading. And he reads beautifully.


May 1, 2020

© Perceval Press.

Iolanthe's Quotable Viggo

Found By: Iolanthe

On November 10th Viggo will be given the Alexander Garrett Award for Service to Beyond Baroque, celebrating his long association with this literary and arts centre, which was established in 1968. Not only does Viggo have a long history of live poetry readings -– his own and other poets’ work - and exhibitions there (One Man’s Meat in 1999), but he has given unstinting support when needed. I loved director Richard Modiano’s comment that, to him, Viggo is ‘a poet foremost’. I think it’s a great way to sum up Viggo’s artistic output because poetry doesn’t just have to be about words. His acting, his art, his music, his photography all has the poetic about it – a sensitive narrative of life gracefully and sensitively interpreted.

“Many funding sources had dried up and I reached out to Viggo for help — which came immediately. To me Viggo is a poet foremost — I know his work from the days of Cafe Iguana and the Onyx Cafe; and of course he polished his poetry chops in the Wednesday Night Poetry Workshops."

Beyond Baroque director Richard Modiano
The Book of Viggo
By Shana Nys Dambrot
LA Weekly
1 November 2018

Most of you out there are more than likely familiar with Viggo the actor, star of films like The Indian Runner, Crimson Tide, G.I. Jane, The Reflecting Skin, and Carlito's Way among others... but we here in Bumville know him as poet and angel. Viggo has been very actively involved in the reclamation of Beyond Baroque Literary Arts Center in Venice, Ca. for a few years now and has been an active voice on the L.A. poetry scene as well. When The Carma Bums kicked off their Twisted Tour of Words in '96 at Luna Park in West L.A., Viggo came to see the show and wish us all bon voyage and ultimately helped us with artistic assist of our video/film The Luxurious Tigers Of Obnoxious Agreement.

For The Carma Bums
Carma Bums

'A lot of people that were here tonight said something about their writing, but were too embarrassed by it. And I'd ask them about what they write and encourage them to pursue it. People sometimes seem to feel that poetry is just this little thing you do privately, like your diary. But in reality it's something that you can work at in many ways, that you can share, that you can take as far as you like.'

Viggo Mortensen at the Midnight Special reading
A Religious Moment Where Something Might Happen
by Scott Thill
Morphizm 2002

The author of two published books of poetry, Mortensen crafts spare, fine-tuned verses that end with the sharp report of a metaphor hitting its target. Most paint a languid picture of West Coast suburban life a milieu of cars, swimming pools and lovers' conversations; some ruminate on the life of the movie actor with surprising acuity.

The Man Who Would Be King
by Nick Dent
Black & White Magazine

‘A teacher gave me the taste for poetry. I like the discipline it imposes, I like the reign of precision and the perfect word.’

Viggo Mortensen: "Travelling is the best anti-war weapon"
By Yetty Hagendorf - translated by Donna Marie
Le Soir (Belgium)
2 February 2015

‘To write a good poem requires discipline, discretion and precision.’

Viggo Mortensen: "You must live your contradictions”
by Olivier Cariguel
Le Magazine Litteraire
March 2015

"For me, it's like taking apart an engine. You take all the pieces, you put them on a table and when you finish putting it together, you leave some of them aside.”

Viggo on writing poetry
"Writing and acting are like being a kid again"
By Eduardo Bejuk
Gente Magazine – translated by Zooey
September 2009

"For me, music and poetry together mean something. When I feel something, I write. When I write, I think of a melody,"…

..he reads poems by Fabián Casas, like, for instance, "Sin llaves y a oscuras" [Without Keys and in the Dark], one by Bosnian poet Izet Sarajilic, or "Elogi de la discreció "[In Praise of Discretion], by Catalan poet Anna Rossell. With this last poem, the audience surrenders completely to the actor and applauds with great enthusiasm.

Romea Theatre poetry reading with pianist Rafel Plana
Viggo Mortensen Seduces at the Romea
By Griselda Oliver - translated by Ollie
26 February 2015

…in my performance [at the Romea Theatre] I read recent poems or some that I wrote years ago. Every time I read them, they come out in a different way. But I always remember where and how the poem in question came to be.

"Poetry is an art that will never disappear."
By Lluis Arcalis and Teresa Marquez translated by Ollie and Zoe
El Punt Avui
1 March 2016

'He kept a lot of his poetry inside his refrigerator,' says Cervenkova, 'which endeared him to me forever.'

Exene Cervenkova
Viggo Mortensen
by Steve Pond
US Magazine #236, 1997

To Viggo, poetry is a way to leave reality behind in order to reach another, purer reality, away from those commonplace moments and the difficult situations for which there's no apparent relief. Poetry, to him, is a way to put the world into perspective.

About Them... "I like a brave woman"
By Salvador Llopart - translated by Ollie, Rio and Zooey
La Vanguardia
14 March 2010

His poetry and prose are taut and gripping - the outpourings of a genuine talent, not a bored dilettante.

Understated A-lister Viggo Mortensen tells our reporter about his new cult hit 'Captain Fantastic' - and why it's impossible to be the perfect parent
by Ed Power
Irish Independent
31 August 2016

'I don't have to wait on other people as to whether I'm allowed to work, and it's up to me if I want to ruin it in the editing.'

Viggo Mortensen on writing poetry
Viggo Mortensen
by Steve Pond
US Magazine #236, 1997

“Poetry is an art that will never disappear; it will always exist.”

Poetry is an art that will never disappear
By Lluis Arcalis and Teresa Marquez translated by Ollie and Zoe
El Punt Avui
1 March 2016

You will find all previous Quotables here.

© Viggo-Works/Iolanthe. Images © HB Carlos.

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Last edited: 29 May 2023 10:36:46