Cesar Vallejo, a Poet of the American Peoples

En Marcha

Cesar Vallejo was a ‘very brown man, with the nose of a boxer and gel in his hair,’ according to the description by Caesar Gonzalez Ruano in an interview published in El Heraldo de Madrid of January 27, 1931.

Caesar Abraham Vallejo Mendoza was born in Santiago de Chuco, a town high up in the region of La Libertad, in Peru. Of mestizo and provincial origin, he became one of the most important writers of Peru and the Americas. He published his first poem, Los heraldos negros (The Black Heralds), in 1918, in which the modernist influences are clear. In addition, the work contains examples of what would become a constant in his work: solidarity of the poet with the sufferings of the people, which are transformed into a cry of rebellion against society and confirm his commitment to the poor sectors from his youth.

Unjustly accused of robbery and arson during a popular revolt in 1920, Caesar Vallejo spent three and one-half months in jail, during which he wrote another of his masterpieces, Trilce, in 1922. This marked his definitive rupture with modernism and literary nationalism; it has a great message of the liberation of humanity, and shows an aesthetic with symbols that forcefully shake one  by their newness or originality and are the free expression of what must be freed.

In 1923, after publishing Escalas melografiadas (Musical Scales) and Fabla salvaje (A Wild Tale), Vallejo moved to Paris, where he met Juan Gris and Vicente Huidobro, and founded the magazine Favorables Paris Poema (Favorable Paris Poem) in 1926. In 1928 and 1929 he visited Moscow and met Mayakovski, and in 1930 he travelled to Spain, where the second edition of Trilce appeared. In 1931 his novel Tungsten and the short story Paco Yunque appeared, and he made another trip to Russia. In 1932 he wrote the play Lockout and joined the Spanish Communist Party. He returned to Paris, where he lived clandestinely, and there, after the Civil War broke out, he collected funds for the Republican cause.

Among his other writings there stands out the play Moscu contra Moscu (Moscow against Moscow), later titled Entre las dos orillas corre el rio (Between the Two Banks Runs the River). Posthumously there appeared Poemas humanas (Human Poems) (1939) and España, aparta de mi este caliz (Spain, Take This Chalice From Me) (1940), a stirring vision of the war in Spain and an expression of his poetic maturity. Contra el secreto professional (Against the Professional Secret) and El arte y la revolucion (Art and the Revolution), written in 1930-1932, appeared in 1973.

After a life of economic limitations and a long illness, he died in Paris in 1938, having created an immense body of works of art, moving and overwhelming, in which he presents the reality of the peoples of the Americas.

From En Marcha,
Central Organ of the Marxist-Leninist Communist Party of Ecuador,
#1527 March 25 to 31, 2011.

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