Poetry is a Planet of Living Trees: An interview with Ana Varela Tafur


Diego Fares SJ / Church Thought / 21 September 2020

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“The pope’s document gives us much to reflect on. It is beautiful, illuminating and full of hope in humanity. Beloved Amazon, so loved and suffering” (Ana Varela Tafur)

It was the custom for popes not to mention contemporary authors in their official documents. Francis has done so since the beginning of his pontificate. In the apostolic exhortation Querida Amazonia (QA) he draws on 16 Latin American poets, women and men. “Francis’ decision to include the poetic and symbolic logos as an integral part of his magisterial text is stronger than may appear.”[1]

Francis does not quote poets to give examples, but he listens to them and enters into resonance with what poetry gives. The “four dreams” he shares about the Amazon are enriched by being nourished by the cultures of its peoples and attest that “only poetry, with its humble voice, will be able to save this world”[2] (QA 46).

In “The Prophecy of Contemplation” (QA 53-57) the Holy Father proposes an itinerary that reverses the path followed by the extractive paradigm and enters into the heart of the Amazon. He invites us to adopt courageous attitudes in order not to leave this portion of our planet at the mercy of those who have already made contrary attitudes their own: “From the original peoples, we can learn to contemplate the Amazon region and not simply analyze it, and thus appreciate this precious mystery that transcends us. We can love it, not simply use it, with the result that love can awaken a deep and sincere interest. Even more, we can feel intimately a part of it and not only defend it; then the Amazon region will once more become like a mother to us” (QA 55).

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