Viggo Mortensen, Poetry Editor

Source: La Nación

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When one hears the name of Viggo Mortensen, two pictures easily come to mind which turn out to be familiar to us Argentines. One is of the protagonist of the trilogy, The Lord of the Rings, the film version of the work by J.R.R. Tolkien, directed by Peter Jackson. The other, as a fan of San Lorenzo de Almagro.

But along with performance and soccer, Mortensen hides another passion: literature. He is the director of a North American publishing house, Perceval Press, which has just produced an anthology of the New Poetry of Argentina, which he is presenting today, at 7 p.m., in the Spanish Cultural Center, Paraná 1159.

The anthology was born in the Nuevo Gasómetro [San Lorenzo's stadium], where Mortensen, 50 years old, shared his blue and red passion with a distinguished voice of Argentinian poetry, Fabián Casas, who is familiar with the work of other young Argentinian poets. The rest was the task of the editor, Gustavo López, the director of the Cultural Project VOX.

"Each poet and each poem is different" Mortensen told La Nación through an email interview. "This anthology includes twenty-two distinct voices and all of them interest me."

And he explains why Perceval Press was born. "I like books and I was interested to see if I could publish authors and artists who hadn't had the opportunity to be published, or who had not been edited in a way that was representative or fair in relation to their art."

That interest and curiousity are also reflected in his other activities, not only as editorial director (a role in which he publishes art, photography and some literature books) but also in his own writing and in his photography. In fact, the cover of this anthology is his work, and the photo is called Boedo 2.

The Boedo thing is not accidental. He is totally identified with San Lorenzo. So much so that he had to make sure that Borges was a fan of the Cyclone.

Football and poetry: where do they converge?

"In Bambino Veira, for example."

Why San Lorenzo?

"Because I was born."

Borges was an admirer of Scandinavian mythology. Did you read his work?

"I'll tell you something that most people don't know about Borges. When he worked in the Miguel Cané library, not very far from San Juan and Boedo, and went to a café in the area, the San Lorenzo fans would continually insist that he had to become a Cyclone fan, until the writer, who was not interested in soccer at all, finally accepted being called 'another Cuervo.' It's even said that his favorite pajamas were blue and red.

And soon he quotes Borges reflecting on his role as a fan: "...But I quickly noticed that San Lorenzo de Almagro almost never won. So I spoke with them and they told me that no, that winning or losing was secondary, - which made sense - but that San Lorenzo was the most scientific team of all. They told me, 'Yes, it is apparent that they couldn't win, but they did it so methodically.' "

Since we're dealing with Borges, do you see some relationship between Argentinian and Scandinavian poetry, especially Danish?

"I am always looking for similarities, and I easily find them everywhere."

When did you begin to write poetry? Did your life in boarding school in this country influence its creation?

"I started writing stories when I was 6 or 7, I think. At 15 or 16 I started to write poetry. I lived in Argentina until I was 11 so I guess I've been inlfluenced by my life in this country because everything around you can influence you."

Have you considered searching for young talent?

"More than searching, it seems to me that I come across ideas and artists who've come to me by chance. Their age is irrrelevant. We publish men and women of different ages. Soon we will publish a collection of Talo Kejner, an Argentine poet little known until now who had to go into exile during the last dictatorship. He is not as young as the poets in the anthology, but he has a very special way of writing as unique as theirs."

What can you tell us about the book that you are going to present?

That it's worth reading, that it's worth knowing the work of these poets called "The 90's Generation." Also I can say that it looks good, beautifully designed."

The Selection:

New Argentine Poetry. The anthology selects the work of 22 poets born in the 60's and 70's. It is a hardcover edition and has 112 pages.

Nineties Generation: Literary critics define this movement as characterized by the variety of themes and aesthetics, heirs of Leónidas Lamborghini, Juana Bignozzi, Joaquín Giannuzzi or Ricardo Zelarayán, among many others.

Names: Fabián Casas, Washington Cucurto, Juan Desiderio, Francisco Garamona, Daniel G. Helder, Marina Mariash, María Medrano, Martín Prieto, Damién Ríos, Ana Wajszczuk and Laura Wittner are some of the authors.

Two passions: Mortensen and Casas are characterized as fans of San Lorenzo de Almagro. In the stands at the stadium, they began the exchange of texts and the proposal to publish an anthology that, according to López, was initially 500 pages long.
Last edited: 21 August 2009 14:14:27
© La Nación .