Artistic Works of David Rosenmann-Taub
“A poet who is different and long deferred, David Rosenmann-Taub writes for himself, out of time and space. His poetry is personal, brilliant, innovative, full of intensity and emotion, and – as Rosenmann-Taub himself has always wished – designed for the future. For the future of today, of the twenty-first century, which is when its true stature can be appreciated with greater justice.”
— from the preface of Me Incitó el Espejo, an anthology of
David Rosenmann-Taub's poetry, edited by Álvaro Salvador
and Erika Martinez (DVD Ediciones, Spain, 2010)
Now in his eighties, David Rosenmann-Taub, a native of Chile and a resident of the United States, has always applied himself entirely to the creation of his art, leaving him no time to promote it. Thus for many years, in spite of the reputation he had acquired as a profound and complex poet, his poetry was known only to a few connoisseurs, and much of his writing remained unpublished. When issued in its entirety, his poetic oeuvre will amount to more than forty volumes, comprising a vast, integral masterwork by one of the most original thinkers of our era. In 2000, Rosenmann-Taub assigned his copyrights to the Corda Foundation, which had been established by a group of writers, artists, educators and professionals whose goal was to preserve, publish, and bring to the world’s attention his extraordinary achievement.
Gradually, the prestige of the poet has reached beyond his native Chile, to Latin America, USA, Europe and India, where his work has attracted growing numbers of enthusiastic readers. As Jaime Concha, Professor of Latin American Literature at the University of California, San Diego, writes in the preface to the upcoming American anthology On the Threshold of the World: “Thanks to the Corda Foundation, which has promoted the knowledge and dissemination of his poetry, but especially because this work has come into complete correlation with its time in terms of sensibility and the horizon of expectations, we are witnessing a fervent reception of Rosenmann-Taub, who is already an inextricable part of the catalogue of great poetry in Spanish.”
– Hernán Díaz Arrieta (known as “Alone”)
While a number of Rosenmann-Taub's books had appeared earlier in his career, a new surge of publishing began in 2002, when one of Chile's leading publishers, LOM Ediciones, brought out, in collaboration with the University of Concepción, a revised edition of Cortejo y Epinicio (the book whose first appearance, in 1949, had established Rosenmann-Taub as a major, revelatory new voice).
LOM has since brought out ten other books by the poet – in 2003, El Mensajero (The Messenger); in 2004, El Cielo en la Fuente/La Mañana Eterna (The Sky in the Fountain/The Eternal Morning) and País Más Allá (Country Beyond); in 2005, Poesiectomía (Poetryectomy); in 2006, Los Despojos del Sol: Ananda Primera y Segunda (The Remains of the Sun: First and Second Ananda); in 2007, Auge (Acme); in 2008, Quince (Fifteen), a book of commentaries by the author on fifteen of his poems, including a CD of him reading the poems; in 2011, La Opción (The Option); in 2013 La Noche Antes (The Night Before) which completed The Tetralogy : Cortejo y Epinicio; and in 2014, Los Surcos Inundados (The Flooded Furrows). In 2015, Oó,o, was published in Spain by Editorial Pre-Textos.
A Selection of Poems
I just died: for the earth
I am a newborn.
On the shipwreck day of my most beautiful boat,
I climbed up to its highest mast
to look at the sea.
There was no sea: there was not even a trace of it:
there was not even the void of that final day.
There was only looking.
I looked at the looking toward the sailing that I await.
To the blade of the inquisition,
the corn mush of my misadventures.
The governorship, lost, to my family.
My family, to my coffin.
To you, when created, this poem.
And to me, who will never know myself,
the nonbeing of my all.
When, from time to night, I am real,
on the blue keyboard of my banner
the horizon howls, vertical.
Piano of the world, let me tune you.
In 2006, En un lugar de la Sangre (In the place of the Blood) was published by the Mandora Press in a limited edition, accompanied by a CD and DVD of related music composed and performed by the poet.
Critical and academic reaction to David Rosenmann-Taub's work has emerged in various forums. In Chile, El Mensajero was selected in the press as the best poetry book of the year 2003, and the literary supplement of Chile’s leading newspaper, El Mercurio, named him as one of the ten most important authors of 2004. El Mercurio also named Poesiectomía one of the three notable poetry books of 2005. Rosenmann-Taub is frequently mentioned in the Chilean media as a likely recipient of the next Premio Nacional for poetry. The United States has begun to take note of him as well, in such publications as the Revista Iberoamericana and the Hofstra Hispanic Review.
In 2010, a number of anthologies and translations of the poet’s work came out: in Spain, Me Incitó el Espejo, edited by Álvaro Salvador (University of Granada) and Erika Martínez (University of Paris, Sorbonne), published by DVD Ediciones; in Italy, E poi, il vento, an anthology translated by Sabrina Costanzo (University of Catania), published by Andrea Lippolis Editore; and a selection of the poet’s work translated into Bengali by Subrahnsu Banerjee, published in Kolkata by Karaub. In 2011, a bilingual edition of Cortejo y Epinicio, translated into French by Luc Brébion, was published in Paris by Éditions Bruno Doucey; and El Horizonte Cruza la Casa, a Rosenmann-Taub anthology edited by Victor Manuel Toledo, was published in Puebla, Mexico by Benemérita University. Cortejo y Epinicio is presently being translated into Italian. An Argentinean anthology, Multiverso, assembled by Jorge Monteleone was published by Mansalva in 2012 and, in 2013 in Portugal, Antes que a luz trema, Editions Universidade Fernando Pessoa, a bilingual anthology by Albano Martins was published. And that book was followed in Spain in 2014 by El Duelo de la Luz, Pre-textos Ediciones, an anthology by Álvaro Salvador and Erika Martinez.
In 2006, the Foundation formed an advisory board of twelve experts in Latin American poetry. With representation from Spain, Chile, Mexico and the US, board members provide guidance with the Corda Foundation Awards Program. The Awards Program was established in 2007 to encourage students, professors, scholars, and translators to investigate, translate, and further the understanding of David Rosenmann-Taub’s poetry. Since 2008, nineteen awards, including two doctoral fellowships, have been granted to graduate students, professors, translators and undergraduate students. Various presentations at conferences and symposia have been made about the poetry of David Rosenmann-Taub, and roundtables on his work have been held at such institutions as the University of Chile and Georgetown University in Washington, D.C.. In 2011, a symposium organized in collaboration with Sorbonne University (Paris IV), took place with the participation of academics from a number of countries.
Closely tied to David Rosenmann-Taub's poetic creation is his work as a composer, pianist, and graphic artist. Corda maintains trilingual poetry and music websites that serve as libraries containing more than fifty reviews and scholarly essays in translation for the study of David Rosenmann-Taub’s works. A website of his art was launched in 2015. The Foundation also contributes to extensive collections of his works and commentary on them at theBiblioteca Cervantes Virtual, Universidad de Chile de Santiago and Biblioteca Nacional de Chile.
Supported by grants from the Foundation, contemporary performing artists and filmmakers in the Chile, the US, and Spain have glimpsed the many levels in the music and poetry of David Rosenmann-Taub. Through their interpretations they have individually sought to express their personal understanding of his works:
“Dígame, David Rosenmann-Taub: Qué es poesia?” by the distinguished Chilean actor Héctor Noguera.
The films Reflejos Elementales and Apresto, by the Chilean filmmaker Alexis Moreno.
Aguacibera, a CD of flamenco adapted from the poems of David Rosenmann-Taub by Esther Crisol.
The dances Salomé and Conversations, performed to David Rosenmann-Taub's music, are choreographed by Stephen Pier, Director of Dance Division at The Hartt School. For Salomé, the dancer is Katherine Crockett from the Martha Graham Company; for Conversations, the performers are Stephen Pier and Martha Graham Company's Principal dancer, Miki Orihara.
Yo Creyera Para No Creer, a modern dance piece choreographed by Chevi Muraday, winner of the Spanish National Prize of Dance, and performed by his company, Losdedae.
Today, the Corda Foundation continues to actively fulfill its mission in collaboration with outstanding artists, students, academics, and editors throughout the world.
David Rosenmann-Taub is a masterly composer and pianist. His mother, a consummate pianist herself, gave him his first lessons at the age of two. He was later taught by Roberto Duncker, who urged him to become a concert performer. He also studied composition, counterpoint, and fugue with the great Chilean composer Pedro Humberto Allende, who wanted him to devote himself full-time to composing.
He has recorded over a hundred CDs, most yet to be released, of his own compositions, in which he introduces striking innovations. In certain of his pieces (Despedida del Deseo [Farewell to Desire], Fuegos Naturales [Natural Fires]) he presents a single subject contemplated from various points of view, so that it can be observed in the same way a sculpture would be. Others of his extraordinary creations (such as Abecechedario [Alphabet] and Orbe [Orb]) contain up to six different, precisely interlocking piano parts, played by the composer himself and overdubbed, producing a vibrant intricacy of meaning.
His music demands, and rewards, resolute attention from the listener. Its themes range from the intimate to the cosmic, from the sanctuary of a mother’s lap to a multiverse that is a nightmarish carousel of incessant creation-destruction. As a pianist, Rosenmann-Taub makes the music speak with stunning clarity, free of embellishment: his technical virtuosity is a match for the complexity of his compositions.
In June 2010 Conversaciones, the first volume of the David Rosenmann-Taub collection appeared on the MSR Classics label. En un lugar de la Sangre, the latest volume of the collection was released in July 2013.
As in his poetry and music, Rosenmann-Taub penetrates to the essential in his drawings. Confining himself to the rigor of black and white, he achieves his effects with minimal means: pen and ink, chalk, charcoal, pastel. Although at first his manner may appear realistic, close examination reveals that he transcends surface reality.
His drawings take many dynamic forms, but the majority focus on physiognomy: a vast and varied gallery of portraits. In each, Rosenmann-Taub captures not just one biographical moment, but the whole predicament inherent in the individual’s existence. The enigmas of these lives are fathomed — intimate feelings, unresolved contradictions, dubious compromises, irreparable mistakes. These beings, stripped of all masks, lay bare the human drama. He has created more than eight hundred drawings. Certain series, such as La Bofetada (The Slap), Alarde (Boast), and La Decepción (Disappointment), are centered on a particular theme. Apart from a few illustrations he has done for his own books of poetry, these masterpieces are unknown.
Four drawings of David Rosenmann-Taub were presented during October 2015 in the Santiago exhibition Los poetas más allá del poema (The poets beyond the poem), which brought together 30 drawings, paintings, and objects from authors such as David Rosenmann-Taub, Pablo Neruda, Nicanor Parra, Enrique Lihn, among others.