Gimferrer, Pere

Gimferrer, Pere
b. 1945, Barcelona
   Poet, essayist, critic and novelist
   Gimferrer's first collections of poems were written in Spanish. In them he shows a remarkable freedom from contemporary influences; instead, he adopts a much more cosmopolitan range of models, from Rimbaud and Darío to Eliot, Wallace Stevens, St-John Perse and Octavio Paz. The results of this can be seen at their best in Arde el mar (The Sea is Burning), published in 1966, where the use of certain cinematic techniques—montage, abrupt transitions—is combined with a kind of metapoetry in which the poem is made to reflect on its own composition.
   From 1970 onwards, all Gimferrer's poetry is written in Catalan, a transition which he describes as the need to write in a language in which the "I" of the poems could coincide with himself. In his first three collections in Catalan, Els miralls (The Mirrors), Hora foscant (The Darkening Hour) and Foc cec (Blind Fire), the preoccupations of the earlier poems—notably, the search for identity—are continued, along with an exploration of those elements in the Catalan tradition—popular poetry, the Baroque—which are still valid for a contemporary poet. In Tres poemes (Three Poems), first published in 1974, Gimferrer extends the erotic dimension already apparent in some of his earlier works: sexual love, not seen as an end in itself, but as a means of access to a higher reality. These themes and others come together in L'espai desert (Deserted Space) (1977), Gimferrer's most ambitious poem to date. Here, for the first time, he investigates the possibilities of poetry within the context of a specific time and place. Much of this investigation depends on language itself; Gimferrer sees the poem as an activity, rather than as a means of expression: the complex transformations of the poem are brought about by the pressures of the actual language in such a way that the identity of the poet is destroyed and reformed through glimpses of a truer reality.
   In Aparicions (Apparitions) (1981), the long sequence which followed L'espai desert, the question of individual identity is approached from a more inward direction, from the connection between the act of writing and the possibility of living an authentic life. Thus the poem moves between a state of pre-consciousness associated with dream to a "centre of consciousness" in which individual identity is merged in a reciprocal movement between particular lives and the life of the earth. Since Aparicions, Gimferrer has published two further collections, El vendaval (The Whirlwind) (1988) and La llum (The Light) (1991). In contrast to the free verse of much of the earlier poetry, many of these poems are strict sonnets, in which Gimferrer's virtuosity reaches new heights. He himself has described these poems as "Symbolism taken to its final limits": if they constantly lament the gap which separates words from the objects they attempt to designate, their formal perfection serves to undermine what, at first sight, might seem a depressing conclusion.
   Gimferrer is also the author of an outstanding novel, Fortuny (1983), as well as two books of criticism and diaries and essays in both Spanish and Catalan.
   Further reading
   - Gracia, J. (1994) "Preface" to P.Gimferrer, Arde el mar, Madrid: Cátedra.
   - Terry, A. (1995) "Introduction" to P.Gimferrer, Obra catalana complete I: Poesia (Complete Catalan Works: Poetry), Barcelona: Ediciones 62.
   ARTHUR TERRY

Encyclopedia of contemporary Spanish culture. 2013.

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