Up until 2003, I considered myself first and foremost a poet. The genre seemed limitless, unbound by any rules except one’s imagination. After reading Eduardo Galeano’s Century of the Wind that spring, on the recommendation of a friend, all poetry seemed limited, insufficient and creatively dead. Galeano’s writing remains the most passionate, hilarious, committed, and yes, poetic attempt to understand the world, to come to terms with the depths and the heights of being alive.
After 2003, poetry became a hobby for me, something I dabbled in when I was bored. After reading Galeano (and also, around that same time, William Gass), I realized that prose could go places, could do things, could flat out carry more meaning, than poetry ever could. That all the things I got from poetry–the awe, the reverence, the power of someone expressing the inexpressible, clearing the opaque in a way that made their audience swoon–could be done in prose. And while I agree with Eduardo Galeano’s politics, and I admire his commitment to equality in socioeconomics as much as I admire his commitment to inequality in athletics, he should remembered first and foremost as a writer, as someone who manipulated & shaped language to reshape the world. I can open any of his books at random and be sure to find a turn of phrase that floors me in its originality and its beauty. And as a man who was very angry with the injustices of the world, his outrage was always rooted first & foremost in love, and that’s a good lesson for all of us.
His work will live on and continue to inspire. And one day the world he envisioned will come to exist. Because that world is sane, just, and fair. And because there’s more of us than there are of them.
But it would be a crime if his politics overshadowed the fact that, on most days, he left every other writer on the planet in his fucking dust.