Librería Laberinto Viejo San Juan (in Old San Juan, Puerto Rico) recently featured a new poetry collection by writer Julio César Pol (born in Ponce, Puerto Rico 1976): Sísifo [Sisyphus]. Alexandra Pagán Vélez describes the book here:
[. . .] Whenever I approach the poetry of Julio César Pol, I do it with an alert eye and an open heart. I know that his verses are full of treasures that make me understand the world better, while I delight in the wit, humor and mastery of his lyricism. I know that I am reading an honest, profound poet who has the ability to show me reality at quantum levels. And it is precisely the gift that this text offers me that I present with great enthusiasm: in the midst of the bold and honest look on executive work, to discover a “simple truth” [verdad sencilla], as Julia de Burgos said. In these poems, Pol reveals the uselessness of the annihilating labor system as a way to encourage the possibility of another kind of life, another kind of gaze. This book of poems presents a crossroads: before the imminence of delivering a report, deciding “between a poem or a lie.” Thus, this microcosm becomes a metonymy of life itself: in the face of the superfluity of coexistence, it is necessary to decide between what is valuable and what is useless, between living or existing.
“The gods had condemned Sisyphus to ceaselessly push a rock to the top of a mountain from where the stone fell back, propulsed by its own weight. They had thought, with some basis, that there is no punishment more terrible than useless and hopeless work.” Thus begins The Myth of Sisyphus (1942) by Albert Camus. “There is no punishment more terrible than useless and hopeless work”: Pol raises the contradictions between the working world and poetry. “La roca,” the first poem in the collection, clearly establishes what will be a series of metaphors and metonyms, some charged with humor, others with reproach and denunciation, about the fruitless work that results from the neoliberal bureaucracy and post-Fordism.
The cold world of the offices, with their cubicles and elevators, becomes a reducing and unhealthy space (precisely, the time puncher becomes a guillotine). The reports, the overwhelming tasks with deadlines, the temptations and the love affairs, the abuses and the delusions of the power; all these elements enter into an unequal and unjust struggle with the subject, family life, self-esteem, and poetry itself. This book-as-object makes it clear that poetry ultimately wins, and that, facing all that desolation, the luminous possibility becomes a promise. [. . .]
[Translated by Ivette Romero.] For full review in Spanish, see https://juliocesarpol.com/sisifo-2/