Costa Rican poets gather Thursday to honor one of their own

Archivo Nacional photo
This is part of the 1920 text by María Cristina Guzmán Acosta in which she said poetry just requires paper and ink

Poetry is sort of the Rodney Dangerfield of the arts. It does not get a lot of respect.

In part, that is because anyone with a pen and paper can call him or herself a poet.

Some expats think less of Latin poetry because it appears easier to compose verse in Spanish than in English. But poetry is not just rhyming the ends of lines. A successful poem causes the listener or reader to think of something new. Something that has not existed previously.

For example, Costa Rican poet Luz Alba Chacón León penned a book with the title Burbujas rasgando el silencio. The English translation is “Bubbles Tearing the Silence.” That seems to be a unique concept.

Ms. Chacón has done much more than that, which is why she is being honored Thursday, the Día Nacional de la Poesía.

The Archivo Nacional is setting up an event with Ms. Chacón and four other poets. It is called Atabal del alba, which is best translated as a “Drumroll for Alba.”

The participating poets are Lucía Alfaro, Julieta Dobles, Ronald Bonilla and Leda García.

Ms. Chacón was director of the Archivo Nacional from 1980 to 1991 and has received a number of awards for her poetry. After she retired, she did more writing and is a mainstay in writers groups.

The national day of poetry was decreed in 1966 for the birthday of Jorge Debravo, a poet from Turrialba, according to the archive.

Archivo Nacional photo
The nation’s first poetry anthology, published in 1890.

As expected, the archive has historical material connected with poetry, including the first anthology or collection of Costa Rican poetry, Lira Costarricense published in two volumes, one in 1890 and the second in 1891.

There also is an essay by a first year teaching student, who wrote in 1920 that “The great part of the people are devoted to poetry because nothing more than paper and ink is needed, but rare and chosen are those who know how to make verse.” That student was María Cristina Guzmán Acosta.

The poetry gathering Thursday is at 3 p.m. in the Archivo Nacional. It is free and open to the public.

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