The Instituto Cervantes is already guardian of the memory of Jaime Gil de Biedma (Barcelona, 1929-1990). The Institution’s Caja de las Letras hosted this Friday a “sober” legacy of the great and “decent” poet delivered by his family and Carmen Balcells’ literary agency, to which he always remained faithful. In an intimate act due to the pandemic and the storm, it was deposited in chest 1,602 of the vault of the headquarters of Cervantes until its opening on January 11, 2023.
Relatives of the writer, including his niece Inés García-Albi, and Carina Pons, from the Balcells agency, deposited in the Caja de las Letras a “family, sober and scarce legacy, like his work”. It was made up of a numbered offprint with the number 12 from a print run of 50 copies of ‘To live here’ from 1958 and dedicated to one of his sisters; the first plaquette of a work from the year 52 dedicated to the poet’s mother; a “very funny” letter to another sister; the first edition of ‘Diary of the seriously ill artist’ (1974), and a portrait he made for Picasso in a book in homage to the painter from Malaga. The minutes of the celebration of the 75th anniversary of the Philippine Tobacco Company for which the poet worked, who traveled to the Asian country in 1956, was also included.
“The passage of time suits his work phenomenal,” said Inés García-Albi, who evoked her uncle as someone “fun and affectionate” and highlighted the crucial role he played in the family. “He wrote so as not to die altogether, and it seems he succeeded,” said the niece of one of the essential authors of the brilliant Generation of 50.
The director of the Instituto Cervantes, Luis García Montero, recalled “moved and grateful” to his teacher and friend. “It was decisive for several generations of poets and for me, helping me with my first book,” he thanked. “I teach all of us not to separate culture from life, and that mediocrity and pedantry are the two most serious diseases of the lyric,” added García Montero.
He remembered the poet as “a decent person, something not to be confused with a puritan.” Thus, he came out in the face of criticism of the poet’s morality, who referred to some of his homosexual encounters with Filipino minors in a revised version of his diaries.
García Montero praised the “literary honesty” that Gil de Biedma “demonstrated.” “The philologists and hundreds of teachers who have studied his poetry highlight his ability to empathize and be moved with the weakest, with the most needy, and with women exploited by the prevailing machismo of the Spain that he had to live,” he said, assuring that his work “is a decisive inheritance in the history of Spain.” “His poetry, his love for freedom, can help us achieve the wishes that he himself defended” added García Montero.
In the afternoon, the singer-songwriter Silvia Comes was preparing to premiere in the Cervantes auditorium the show ‘Anniversary Waltz’, for which she has put some of Gil de Biedma’s poems to music.