Foix, J.V.

Foix, J.V.
b. 1893, Barcelona; d. 1987, Barcelona
   Poet
   Foix is one of the three outstanding Catalan poets of his generation, along with Carles Riba and Josep Carner. Though he begins from the same basic premises as the other two—the need for an officially sponsored revival of Catalan culture and for a new blend of tradition and modernity—he quickly diverges from them in his conception of the old and the new. The spectrum of Foix's poetry, in fact, is much wider than that of any of his contemporaries: at one end of the scale, he goes back through the fifteenth-century poet Ausias March to the poems of the troubadours and the philosophy of Ramon Llull, and at the other he is closer to Apollinaire and the futurists than to Mallarmé. Yet the more one reads his poetry, the more one is made to realize the unexpected links which join the two ends of the spectrum. More than once he has described his prose poems as semblances (a term he takes from Llull): fantasies which nevertheless are "real" to the extent that they reflect, however tangentially, the personality of the writer.
   Something like half of Foix's work consists of six collections of prose poems grouped under the general title of Diari 1918. The fact that he has chosen to refer this part of his work to a particular year, though it is clear that many of the pieces must have been written much later, suggests that the later work, both poems and prose poems, represents a steady unfolding of the possibilities implicit in his very earliest writing. Especially in his earliest collections of prose poems, Gertrudis and KRTU, Foix seems very close to certain techniques of surrealism, yet the total effect is anything but arbitrary. If their narratives often seem to take place on the frontiers of dream, it is a waking dream in which the poet never abandons his control.
   In his book of sonnets, Sol, i de dol (Alone and in Mourning), published in 1947, though written before the Civil War, the assumptions which lie behind the prose poems are more clearly defined. In the best of these poems, the sense of a free-ranging mind which is nevertheless rooted in a particular time and place leads Foix to a sense of human solidarity, so that his feeling for the Catalan language becomes a feeling of being anchored in a community which still maintains its traditional dignity. Thus, it comes as no surprise to find that Foix has written several of the most moving poems to have come out of the Civil War. In them, however, there is no sense of compromise: as ever, Foix continues to question his own identity, not in any narcisstic sense, but as a guarantee of his right to speak for others in a common situation. Though he describes himself modestly as an "investigator in poetry", Foix's protean gifts and inflexible integrity make his work one of the most exciting achievements in modern Catalan poetry.
   Further reading
   - Gimferrer, P. (1974) La poesia de J.V.Foix, Barcelona: Ediciones 62 (the best general study).
   ARTHUR TERRY

Encyclopedia of contemporary Spanish culture. 2013.

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