Suffering as a Creative Experience for a Poet

Irma Bettancourt, Recipient of Rielo Award for Mystical Poetry

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SANTIAGO, Chile, JAN. 8, 2004 ( «From the Loom of Time» is the title of the poetic composition that won Irma Bettancourt the 23rd Fernando Rielo World Award for Mystical Poetry.

In this interview, the Chilean sheds light on her poetry, reveals the source of her inspiration, and tells why the world needs poetry.

Q: What is mystical poetry for you?

Bettancourt: For me it is that poetry that arises from the depth of suffering that every human being experiences before his own weakness, and before the termination and fleetingness of this life.

The mystical poet tries to express, although pallidly, but in the most beautiful way possible, that dramatic longing that lies deep down in every human being, even if one is not aware of it: the longing for transcendence and for profound and personal dialogue with the One who is himself transcendence and source of life.

Suffering is not absent in mystical poetry, because it expresses a state of constant longing and nostalgia for the total possession of God. But this suffering — and this is essential — is always impregnated with hope that that possession will come, and with a profound love which, although human and weak, enters into dialogue with the infinite love of God, whose presence is in the depths of every human being.

Mystical poetry arises when the poet, because of something mysterious and at the same time moving, succeeds in peering into his time, which is not time, as I express it in one of my poems. And this single event is the cause of immense happiness for him.

Q: What was the inspiration for your award-winning work?

Bettancourt: If I were to summarize it in a few words I would say that «From the Loom of Time» and other poems I have written, have arisen from a real situation: on one hand, my extreme weakness, and on the other, the certainty of the existence of another immutable and transcendent reality that our physical senses can barely perceive — after a sunset, the warble of a thrush, the aroma of a wave, the unfolding of a flower or the moisture of dew when walking on grass. And, all of a sudden, as a gift, after the presence of any human being.

Scripture says, and St. Augustine expresses it very well, that God dwells in every man. I believe it, and so experience it.

Therefore, the inspiration to write these poems, I feel, has arisen spontaneously from my innermost being. From this inner room where God dwells, often silenced by our own interior noise and our own plans, because it so happens that he created us free, and respects our freedom.

And it has also arisen from that eloquent and delicate language with which the Lord speaks to us through the wonders of nature and of the cosmos.

Direct and continuous contact for a long time with sacred Scripture has strengthened me in this dialogue with God, and has also become a source of inspiration, given that within it, I have been able to discover my own history, with my falls and rises.

Q: Do you think the world needs poets? For what?

Bettancourt: I think it needs them to balance somewhat the action of our humanity. We have advanced much in the sciences and in technology, which satisfy the needs of the body. And that is good.

But it so happens, whether we like it or not, that we are not just bones and a mouth that needs to eat. There is another reality within us, which groans, as sacred Scripture says.

This explains depressions and suicides, because there is something in us that will never be satisfied with the material [world].

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