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by Jotamario Arbeláez

Translation and photography by Zachary Payne

Poetry. 90 pages
Bilingual edition

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In Her Body, the Colombian poet Jotamario Arbeláez pays homage to a body through its poetic dissection. On each page, Arbeláez carves the body apart like a surgeon, detailing the features and senses he attributes to each organ through flashes of light and revealing actions. The result is a spectacular performance that garnered the author the National Poetry Prize from the Institute of Culture and Tourism of Bogotá. Jotamario is the cofounder of the Nadaísta poetic movement and currently writes for the Colombian newspapers El Tiempo and El País.

Jotamario at the age of 18 leaves the family business and becomes a Nadaist. “Colombia has lost a tailor but has gained a poet,” said Gonzalo Arango, the black prophet. Nadaism is the first counter cultural movement in Latin America and its members fought under this motto:

Not to leave neither a faith intact, nor an idol in its place.  All that which is consecrated as worthy of worship by the ruling order will be examined and revised.  Only that which is oriented towards revolution will be preserved and that fundamentally for its indestructible consistency, the foundations of the new society. The rest will be removed and destroyed.

How far will we get? The end is not important from the point of view of the fight.  Not arriving is also the fulfillment of a destiny.

As a poet Jotamario has won twice the National Poetry Award with his books of poems, Mi reino por este mundo (1980) and La casa de la memoria (1985).  In 1999, he received the Award from the District Institute of Culture for his book Her Body, these poems were written when the poet was 21 and were recited once in 1962 in Bogota.  In that reading the founder of Nadaism, Gonzalo Arango presented Jotamario with these words:

Jotamario, the gigolo, the announced lover that comes to rescue her from her worshiping mercenaries, wasn’t afraid and threw himself at this adventure with Poetry, not to write with blood the experiences of the pleasurable wedding –that which any romantic could do who slits his veins- but arriving at the occasion to worship her phallicly, gives her back her fertility, and elevates her to demented heavens with his sanctifying sex.

In 2008 the poet received his greatest honor winning the Víctor Valera Mora International Poetry Award with his book of poems Paños menores. At the present, Jotamario works as a columnist at El Tiempo newspaper in Colombia.

Zachary Payne. Translator and Poet (Utah, 1976). Received his Ph.D. from the Complutense University in Madrid, in Spanish and Latin American Thought.  His research interests are Transatlantic Poetry, Translation and Comparative Studies of counter cultural literary movements. His most recent publications have been the translations of beat poet Bob Kaufman into Spanish and Leopoldo Maria Panero, Heroin and other poems (Cardboard House Press, 2014) into English, the study of 80s Peruvian countercultural poetry Kloaka: antología poética (Amargord, 2014) and his own poetry book Robos, Setas & Sombras. (Huerga y Fierro, 2014). He also was recently included in the anthology: Disidentes antología de poetas críticos españoles 1990-2014. (La oveja roja, 2015).