Carlos Avila Gonzalez and Phillip Robertson, for the Pulitzer Center
On the Calle del Refugio two men in threadbare coats were coming down the street quickly. One man with wild hair and gray in his beard was carrying a number of small books, like the small ones that the poets in Chicago call chapbooks. He looked like a man who has spent his life drinking coffee, thinking about literature. Just as we are about to pass each other on the street, he came right up and started speaking without introduction. The man didn't bother with any of the beautiful words of greeting which all Colombians use.
"You're a poet."
"You're a poet aren't you?"
"Ah, I knew it. A journalist. I knew it," he said to his colleague. "A writer."
"You look like one. Didn't I say that?" He said to the other man.
After this we were friends. The man extracted a political statement by Colombia's writers and intellectuals and gave it to me. It came from a massive pile of papers he was carrying around. "Here is my name. Here." The man wanted me to see where he'd signed the manifesto. There were a lot of signatories and it took him a while to find the place where they put his name.
Armando Orozco, supporter of the carta de los artistas e intelectuales por la paz de Colombia, gave me three small chapbooks an invitation to the Casa de Poesia Silva whenever there was time.
"Writers from the Americas should stick together," I said.
"Yes," the poet Armando Orozco said. "Maybe then they will stop killing us."