22. ilb 07. - 17.09.2022

Vicente Valero

Portrait Vicente Valero
© Editorial Periférica

Vicente Valero was born on the Spanish island of Ibiza in 1963 and first became well-known in his homeland as a poet. Since 1987, he has published seven volumes of poetry as well as several illustrated editions in cooperation with artists such as Vicente Fernández Cervera, Pedro Asensio and José del Río Mons. Valero has also written several longer essays on a number of literary themes, such as the poems of Juan Ramón Jiménez and the visits made by Walter Benjamin to Ibiza. In his work »Walter Benjamin en Ibiza, 1932–1933« (2001; tr. Walter Benjamin in Ibiza 1932-1933), Valero examines this critical time in the life of the Berlin intellectual, who saw both his writing and his very existence called into question as a result of his difficult financial situation and the emerging Nazi regime in Germany. Valero meticulously traces Benjamin’s stay on the island and helps to place the writer’s encounters with other artists and intellectuals into a cultural-historical, political and literary context. The essay reappraises the importance of Benjamin’s visits to Ibiza for the development of his writing and shows the extent to which he was already convinced that he was witnessing the disintegration of the world. Quoting Susan Sontag, Valero argues that Benjamin felt »he lived in a time in which all precious things were bound to be the last of their kind«. In »El arte de la fuga« (2015; tr. The Art of the fugue), Valero explores the work of Johannes vom Kreuz, Friedrich Hölderlin and Fernando Pessoa, three poets who – although they lived in different centuries – all sought transcendental identity and unity via a path of extreme self-sacrifice.

In 2014, Valero published his first novel »Los extraños« (tr. The strange ones), in which he links the biographies of four »lost sons« with one another. In the tradition of W. G. Sebald’s »The Emigrants«, the work examines individuals who break all ties to their family and are lost to the remaining members. Some of them leave little or no trace behind: for example, a grandfather who is drafted into an African desert garrison on the day after his wedding and only returns to Ibiza shortly before his death; or the uncle who leaves to accompany a chess player on his travels across the globe; or a young brother-in-law and dance star who has a successful career abroad; or, finally, another grandfather who simply never returns from exile in France.

Valero has translated the poetry of Joan Vinyoli, Marià Villangómez and Antoni Marí from Catalan into Spanish. He is also the publisher of various anthologies of Spanish poetry. He received the Premio Loewe (1992/2007) for his volumes of poetry »Teoría solar« (tr. Solar theory) and »Días del bosque« (tr. Days of the forest).