Why do this?

My father, José Luis Villamizar Melo, passed away in my home town of Cúcuta, Colombia, in August last year. The law and economics were Dad's profession, but literature, history and academia his passion. He wrote and published several books, articles and book chapters. The thing is that so many people have missed out on his work, particularly on his beautiful poetry, which he wrote in Spanish prior to the world wide web. So I thought, what a better way to keep Dad's legacy alive than to bring his writing beyond his world and share it with mine. That is why I am translating over 250 of my Dad's poems to English and publishing them here, one a day, Monday to Friday during 2011 (Dad, a family man, always believed that you shouldn't work on weekends).

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Salute to the poet (Saludo al poeta)

Jorge Franco Vélez (1922 - 1996) was a medical doctor, historian, novel writer and poet from the beautiful city of Medellín, in Antioquia, Colombia.  My father admired and respected him deeply.  I have a vivid image of the cover of his book ‘Hildebrando’ from the childhood memories I built exploring my Dad’s library.  Reading this poem I can just picture how happy Dad would have been to have such an honourable man’s visit, all excited, like a kid having a friend for a sleep over, sharing his toys (books) and showing off his wife and children.  I was only three months old.

From Dad’s book Urgent poetry (Poesía de urgencia). 

Salute to the poet (Saludo al poeta)

To Jorge Franco Vélez

I welcome you Jorge with open arms
my soul and my heart filled with joy.
Fulfilled in the company of these true friends
I praise in you the friendship that is a beautiful anachronism.

You and the word.  Drizzle of light in the abyss.
From the hollow you came on your way to the first light of dawn.
I recite to your splendid life, your pastoral calling
and the sincerity of revealing yourself.

The house is privileged with your noble presence.
Its patios and walls and even the transparency
of the fountain and the roses are at your service.

My wife and I resign the title of owners
so you install in it your poetry, your dreams,
and exercise as well your fraternal duty.

Cúcuta, October 16/76

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