Atencia, María Victoria

Atencia, María Victoria
b. 1931, Málaga
   María Victoria Atencia, one of the most accomplished Spanish poets of the contemporary period, was relatively unknown until the late 1970s. Her early books were published in small editions in her native Málaga and did not attract the attention of readers on a national level. After a long period of silence, she returned in 1976 with a remarkable book of poems entitled Marta y María. Her intricate poetic style would not have been widely appreciated in the literary climate of the 1950s and 1960s, a period in which most wellknown poets were attempting to write in a more colloquial and less self-consciously "literary" mode. Nevertheless, she found a ready audience in younger poets of the 1970s such as Guillermo Carnero, who helped to popularize her work among a select group of readers. Her work has been especially appreciated among her fellow poets. Another factor in her rediscovery was the growing interest in women poets beginning in the 1980s, when writers such as Blanca Andreu and Ana Rossetti began to publish books of poetry. Atencia's poetry, while benefiting from the boom in women's poetry generally, does not much resemble that of these younger women.
   Atencia has been prolific in the 1980s and 1990s, solidifying her reputation with collections such as Compás binario (Duple Metre) in 1984 and El puente (The Bridge) in 1992. Her poetry is most notable for its stylistic subtlety, employing an intimate tone to present finely-tuned subjective reactions. Most of her poems are very short and employ the fourteen-syllable alexandrine line. While her poetry is not hermetic, its nuances demand a slow and attentive reading.
   It is difficult to situate Atencia in relation to other contemporary Spanish poets. She wrote in isolation from the mostly male poets of the "Generation of the 1950s" such as Claudio Rodríguez, Angel González and José Angel Valente. Some critics have linked her work to a specifically "feminine" tradition, although she herself has rejected this notion. Her increasing use of literary and artistic intertexts in her books of the 1980s and 1990s suggests a connection with the "culturalism" of Carnero and other poets of the 1970s. At the same time, however, her attitude to the literary tradition is less iconoclastic than that of these younger poets. Her style, while aiming for an almost classical perfection, is unmistakably original.

Encyclopedia of contemporary Spanish culture. 2013.

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