KONS 2013

Claribel Alegría

19th February 2013, during International Poetry Festival in Granada (Festival internacional de poesia de Granada), Nicaragua:

Justification for awarding the prize

It is with the greatest joy and gratitude that we award, in 2013, the second-ever KONS International Literary Prize to the Nicaraguan and Salvadorian poet Claribel Alegría. It is an extraordinary privilege to have the opportunity of bestowing a gift upon an individual who has done so much for poetry and for her fellow human beings. The prize was established by three European poets for reasons similar to those – so we are convinced – which have guided and continue to guide the winner in her writing and her life. These reasons are: the ceaseless, determined, and patient attempts to snatch from the currents of oblivion those fragments of memory that safeguard individual remembrances of the everyday, as well as the exceptional, efforts made by individuals and collectives in order that their descendants might live better and know more.

Claribel Alegría is first of all a person, and then a poet and everything else. From her rich and heavily engaged literary opus, which numbers more than 40 books and numerous other publications, it is evident that she has lived and lived through many things. From the massacre of peasants (matanza) in a Salvadorian village, which she witnessed when she was barely eight years old, to the deaths of the archbishop Romero, the poet Roque Dalton, and her own mother (while she herself was in exile), as well as her beloved husband. Yet over and over again, she wove her pain into her life in the spirit of the following lines: sadness can't cope with me, I lead it toward life and it evaporates. In her poetry and in her prose, crafted either on her own or in collaboration with her husband Darwin Flakoll, she has always known how to subtly integrate personal experiences with the collective, producing a penetrating, open poetics full of human warmth, which, when one reads it, swiftly finds a path into one's most deeply held emotions while still radiating important historical and human realisations. She has also consistently supported younger poets, attempting to open doors into the world of literature.

Poets write for themselves, for each other, and for people. In this, as Adrienne Rich reminds us, the words of others are important for our own words. And the words of Claribel Alegría – a lyre forged with the cords of her being –, which have found their way to Europe and Slovenia, and thus also into the Slavic world and language, affect us, address us, and remain with us. Thank you, Ms. Claribel Alegría, for teaching us, as Roque Dalton has, that poetry is not made of words alone.

In the name of the panel of the KONS International Literary Prize, we extend our most sincere congratulations!