Gooseflesh. That’s what you feel as you go through the verses of Elvira Sastre in her first book Cuarenta y tres manera de soltarse el pelo. We can place it in the recent trend known as “modern poetry”. It has become (too) usual to find poetry quotations among the homepage of Facebook, on the pictures of Instagram, on Tumblr… In some cases, we might say, it comes from a person who hasn’t read a whole book in her/his entire life, but in other cases it may come from someone who’s actually interested in literature or, especially, someone who’s starting to get interested in literature.
I would consider that the book Cuarenta y tres maneras de soltarse el pelo is one of the works which attract the third kind of people. Elvira Sastre, as many other young writers in Spain like Marwan, Carlos Miguel Cortés or Roy Galán, has started to share her texts on the social media just for pleasure. But the reaction of its few followers pushed her, as the rest of the “modern poets”, to the fame. She has studied in Madrid a degree on English studies and she is just twenty-three. Today we can find that her quotations are constantly shared on the social networks. It might seem to us that the massive “transmission” of new poetry can lead to a trivialization of the literary genre, considering that it can be written and read by anyone.
But I prefer to see the phenomenon of young massive poets as an advantage for new generations who, as they get in touch with poetry, will develop a deeper sense of sensibility. The raise of young writers has impulsed, at the same time, the rise of new publishing houses.
Lapsus Calami is the publisher of Cuarenta y tres maneras de soltarse el pelo. This publishing house has born as an agreement between only six partners in 2013, with the aim of pushing digital books. As they say on its webpage, the poets who publish their works with them are those who “had known how to twist the neck of the language to let us see the world through a new eyes”. So we can see that they are really concerned about what they are doing, they have a purpose, an editorial line. It’s not everything about selling as much books as they can. For instance, in their section of “modern poetry” we can only find four titles, and none of their authors is considered a “big name” of literature, they are all young talents.
In the case of Elvira Sastre, we note that her verses concentrate a high level of romanticism. The twenty-three poems of the book are dedicated to an unknown lover (for the reader), a girl that we start to love from the very first words. Once you begin the book, the secrets between the author and the reader disappear: you enter into her deepest feelings, emotions and sensations, from the most sad and romantic remembers to the roughest scenes of sex.
There is a clear difference between the poems of the book. While the first ones tend to relate the way the poetess fell in love with the girl and how their relation started, the second part consists of the heartbreaking escape of her muse.
Another literary technique that helps the author to make us feel part of their story is writing the poems as if they were dedicated to her lover. We read every text as if they were private letters, where the writer opens all its heart. Little by little, the reader starts making a composition of the unknown addressee, mainly thanks to the recurrent symbols that we notice on the texts.
One of the most current metaphors is the use of the flowers, which she identifies with the feeling of joy, as we can see in one of the passages: “You woke up / and my eyes filled with flowers. / You looked at me and I asked you: / ¿What did you saw in me? / A flower in the middle of a field of ruins, / you said”. In this case, the flowers are the tears of happiness but they also represent the author as a great surprise where there wasn’t supposed to be nothing but waste.
Elvira Sastre makes a wide use of the metaphors and antithesis. It seems that she likes connecting opposites to create a vicious link between both elements: the eternal and the fleeting, the path and the runaway, the drought and the rain… That’s the idea of the love between the poetess and her muse. And this is the way she uses to get the readers hooked on the verses.
The most secret details reveal us a pure love, which at the same time is difficult and struggling. It is the sensibility of Elvira Sastre writing about that what makes you want to be the person who she writes for. Who doesn’t want to hear someone saying to you that “sleeping by your side / turns into / then / in poetry”?