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).

Friday, June 10, 2011

Juan Atalaya

Atalaya is one of the municipalities of Cúcuta. It is named after Juan Atalaya, who provided this land to the city, contributing to its rapid growth. Atalaya is currently inhabited by approximately 400,000 people. It connects Cúcuta to the north and west with other towns in the department of Norte de Santander, such as Salazar de las Palmas, Ocaña, Tibú and Sardinata.

From my Dad’s book Elementary motherland (Patria elemental).

Juan Atalaya

You were the forgotten.

The solitary.

Mrs Juana Rangel your noble eclipse.

But time which is righteous rescued your name.
Now you are Juan the benefactor,
generous landlord, son and father of the city,
leader and soldier at the same time,
equal in the Book of Saints to the donor from Tonchalá.

This is the land of the Juans.

From the Juana of the cattle ranch
to the Juan Atalaya of impetuous Andalusian presence,
mix of Spanish gypsy and native rooster from Cúcuta.

Of the tanned land one hundred percent
fruit and seed.

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