restricted access Indecoro, anacronismo, utopía: Sobre la poesía de Manuel Ramos Otero


This essay offers a political reading of the poetry of Manuel Ramos Otero, focusing on its formal aspects instead of its content and themes, which have traditionally been the center of critical attention. After studying the Puerto Rican author's use of the life and poetry of Luis Cernuda as a mask for his own ethics of marginality, in which breaking the rules of social decorum becomes an act of resistance, the essay goes on to expand that very same notion of decorum to a formal category, analyzing Ramos Otero's trajectory from El libro de la muerte—heavily influenced by both Anglo-American modernism and Latin American modernismo—to Invitación al polvo, which in an apparent paradox draws upon less modern influences, such as a popularist strand of Spanish Baroque poetry and traditional Puerto Rican and Latin American popular music lyrics. Rather than centering on Ramos Otero's poetic chronicling of his struggle with AIDS, the formal anachronism in the Puerto Rican's posthumous poetry collection is read alongside the traumatic neoliberalization of the city of New York—where Ramos Otero resided—specifically through the lens of his romantic relationship with José, a Cuban blue-collar migrant. In its conclusion, the essay argues that, by opposing neoliberal modernization and the transformations and invisibilizations in the work sphere it brings about, Ramos Otero resorts to a politically charged (and anachronistic) use of poetry as manual, artisanal labor.