Ángel Campos Pámpano, who died almost a year ago, was best known on the international literary stage as an excellent translator of Portuguese poets into Spanish, especially of Pessoa, but his own poetry is also extremely interesting in its own right.
I remember meeting Ángel on many occasions over the years at readings both in Zafra and Badajoz. He loved the cut and thrust of poetic debate, and I'll always remember the look of exhilaration on his face as we left a reading by José Ángel Valente, one of his favourite poets.
Just before his death from cancer at the age of fifty-one, Ángel Campos Pámpano had the chance to see a copy of his collected poems, La vida de otro modo (Calambur, 2008), and it's a book that I've been enjoying ever since. There are poetic echoes of Jorge Guillén and César Vallejo, both infused with the emotional landscape of Lisbon and Extremadura, but I feel his poems about his mother stand out. They seem to me to be in constant dialogue with Antonio Gamoneda. The latter had always shared many aspects of his poetic aesthetics with Ángel, but in certain poems this key maternal theme coincides and resonates:
"sabrás que lo que queda
es tan solo una ausencia compartida..."
"you'll know that what remains
is only a shared absence.."
These words could also be applied to the many friends and colleagues who still mourn him. A poet who's still with us through his work, Ángel organised numerous readings in Badajoz. Thanks to his efforts, many of us had the chance to see some of Spain's top talents down here in deepest Extremadura. Now it's our turn to keep his talent alive.
It is rare indeed nowadays to encounter a poetry collection which exudes the traditional values of the art form. This is such a book: it displays an effort...