Dr Diana Cullell, Senior Lecturer in Hispanic Studies, delivered the 28th Annual Kate Elder lecture at Queen Mary University of London at the end of last month. The prestigious Kate Elder lecture series was established in 1989 by the Department of Iberian and Latin American Studies by means of a generous endowment made by the parents and grandparents of Kate Elder, a student of the department who died tragically during her first year of study.
Dr Cullell’s lecture, entitled “Engaging and engaged poetry: the poet, the reader and history in the works of Luis García Montero”, examined some of the tenets around which Luis García Montero –who delivered the 2017 Annual Edgar Allison Peers Lecture at the University of Liverpool on 17 February– has built his verse. García Montero is one of the most read, acclaimed and influential Spanish poets today, and Dr Cullell was particularly interested in comparing most of the poetry the author published since the 1980s to his latest poetry book to date, Balada en la muerte de la poesía (released in 2016). Balada en la muerte de la poesía is a collection of 22 prose poems that narrate how one day the poetic voice learns via the television that Poetry has died, and from then on proceeds to attend the funeral. In her lecture, Dr Cullell approached what she interprets as a turning point in García Montero’s precepts and ideas about poetry, the reader and history, and tried to make sense of a poetic publication that seems to destabilise a carefully orchestrated programme constructed by the author through both poetry and essays over the course of 30 years. She concluded her lecture drawing some hypotheses about where this shift might lead to, both for the poet and for Spanish poetry in general.