© Día a Día.
From the courteous firmness with which he warns that he won't take questions about his acting activities, to the simplicity with which he arranges the books he's come to present on two small stands on the desk, Viggo Mortensen gives off a truly complex and undeniably magnetic aura.
Something which gains even more dimension when you become aware of his multiple interests: acting, music, photography and literature are the activities that capture Viggo's interest. And it's the books that brought him to Cordoba yesterday to spread the word about his publishing house, Perceval Press, with talks at the Centro Cultural España Córdoba (for the press) and at the Facultad de Ciencias Exactas (for the public).
"Perceval Press was founded in 2002", says Mortensen. "I decided to do it because I wanted to publish poets, writers, photographers and essayists. We don´t follow a particular course; we do a bit of everything. As for Gustavo López, we met because together we published the Antologia de la nueva poesía Argentina, which was presented last year. It was then I asked Gustavo if he would like to help me with my book. I have had the desire to write since I was little. When I lived in Argentina, I´d write little stories and little poems, and then I moved to the United States, and the truth is that as a poet who reads and publishes, I began in English".
The two first releases [sic] from Perceval Press are Canciones de invierno, with poetry written by Viggo, and Las pequeñas grandes cosas, another poetic volume by Córdoba native Talo Kejner. "Explaining poetry or why you like it seems to me like a dead end. It doesn´t help either poetry, the poet or the reader", Viggo said about his vocation.
"I stay with the words of Federico García Lorca, who said that `Poetry is the union of two words that you never supposed should get together and that form something of a mystery.´ Poetry doesn´t have adepts; it has lovers".
His book, Canciones de invierno, has poems written originally in Spanish, but also others translated from English. "I started writing in English because I was living in the United States, but I was always writing little things in Spanish," he continues. "Lately, since I've been in Argentina and Spain a lot, I'm writing more in Spanish."
Editor friend. Talo Kejner, a native of Cordoba exiled during the last dictatorship, came to publish Las pequeñas grandes cosas by chance. "I had published a book before, but in exile, in Venezuela. I never thought I would be able to publish here," Talo said. "We met through the friendship that Viggo has with my son. He showed him some poems of mine and we began to exchange ideas. And Viggo kindly went to work on selecting the poems that seemed redeemable to him. He has done such meticulous work that once he sent an email asking if he could put in a comma. It surprised me because it meant a very extreme dedication."
Here Gustavo López, collaborator on Perceval publications and editor of Canciones de invierno, takes the floor to say that in Talo's poems, "can be seen a life crossed by circumstances, some very powerful, like being under the dictatorship, or small views of ordinary life, relationships with his mother, or emotional relationships that are formed in exile, a look from a distance at subjects that concern us all, but from a painful point of view like that of exile."
For Viggo, meanwhile, there was something more to point out in Kejner's work, and it's that, "In today's society, there is a preoccupation with youth, with not being old or even talking about old age. And to read poems which show physical intimacy between two human beings 50, 60 or 70 years old honestly and in an elegantly raw way, it's not what one is used to seeing in poetry."
Talo's poems made such an impression on Mortensen that he decided to seriously dedicate himself to finding a thread among them. "The best directors are those who like to tell stories and who are interested in the actors that are going to tell the story.They do it for the pleasure of helping others do their best work, " he said. " And I, as editor, want to help him do his work, trying to find the 'story' in those poems. With Talo, it was a challenge, because of having so many poems; I just had to try to be fair in finding a poetic and personal line. Later you have to go back and fine tune little by little, because less is more, and it's much easier to do it for someone else. It's like giving advice to a friend who comes [to you] with a problem; you can help him without having the pressure on. And as editor, when the artist ends up happy with my work, it's a pleasure."