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Maria Elena Walsh: the queen of the argentine metaphor

Generations and generations learned with their songs and poems. We heard about the “upside down kingdom” that was just around the corner.

Art and Literature
maria elena walsh

  Maria Elena Walsh's work exceeds the so-called children's literature. In truth, it also overflows the whole Argentine culture.   Unclassifiable artist, free talent, poetry was his first great love, folklore transformed her into a model of popular songwriter, and theater, television and   cafe concert   they finished instituting the key figure of the cultural modernization of the sixties, among their agenda feminism that today is stirring green on the street.   And, when she had to testify in difficult times, she did not escape the suffering of her compatriots and stayed in Argentina, she, who the military asked her what kinship she had with the disappeared writer Rodolfo Walsh, and said “he's my brother.”   Democracy had her as a champion, and language was an advocate, as when she defended the use of “ñ”, which is more than a letter and takes our culture inside, in the face of the advances of globalizing hegemony. He never stopped providing the precise metaphors that imaginatively describe the sufferings and hopes of his people. Like La Cicarra, “I knot on the handkerchief/But I forgot after/it wasn't the only time/And I kept singing.”

Maria Elena Walsh was born in Villa Sarmiento, near Ramos Mejia, on February 1, 1930:”   On warm nights the family usually reunite where the mother can tell the poor here our share of wealth and it is the smell of lemons”,   described those years Maria, coming to the world within an assembled family, with a father Enrique son of British, who sang to her typical absurd English children's songs, and a mother Lucia, an Argentinian of Basque descent, of firm character that would mark education. n of the future poet. They said “Gringa stubborn” in a house of “men with a ghost, a dead sister who was leaving when I came,” summers in Unquillo, Cordoba, and an open-door childhood, thousands of hours of bicycle, stimulated the girl's imagination,”   we were upset by the fantasies of Jules Verne and H.G. Wells, books and music”   and ended up choosing Fine Arts at the Manuel Belgrano School, crucial in his training due to the long friendship with photographer Sara Facio.

“Was the white dust cover invented to conceal differences that never completely concealed, or to imitate the color of snow, the supreme illusion of these lands that did not know it? Snow dignified, that is, europeanized. The native, as Uncle Ben said well, was a stigma, an irremediable suburb” Walsh recalled these teenage thoughts in the semi-autobiographical novel “Novios de yesteryear” (1990), and the clashes with both those who detested popular culture and with clerical and nationalist censors of the military regime of 1943, a foretaste of Peronism.   An Elegy at Spring 1945, his first published poetry, draws attention to the Latin American literary circle, Jorge Luis Borges and Pablo Neruda   among others, and in 1947 he published “Unforgivable Autumn”, a complex lyricism enhanced by a remarkable musical sense. Travel to perfect yourself to the United States, invited by Juan Ramón Jimenez. On his return he published “Baladas con ángel” (1951), in a duet with Angel Bonoraini, he teaches at the Ward College of Ramos Mejía but “I felt totally lost, I didn't know what to do” and remained “a bear, locked in myself, traumatized to the maximum, very Jewish: my father had died in 1947, and   the political situation distressed me terribly”   So he made the decision to separate a pair of pants, a sweater and a sailor's bag, and to embark on Europe, after passing through Panama where he finds another strong presence in his life, folklorist Leda Valladares, who was working on the rescue of the Argentine songbook about to disappear in Northwest Argentina.   And in Paris, these two huge artists revitalize singing and ancestral Argentine poetry ten years before Mercedes Sosa's New Songbook and Armando Tejada Gomez.  

dona pernambuco

  Doña Disparate and Bambuco goes to Paris  

  Leda and Marie   were the sensation of Parisian nights between jujeñas couplas, santiagueñas chacareras and salteñas zambas, where they incorporated their own compositions and contemporaries such as Atahualpa Yupanqui. Deeply influenced by the poetic song by Georges Brassens and Jacques Brel, plus Boris Vian's absurdity, and the games of the language of traditional Argentine folklore, between varietes and elegant rooms,   Walsh begins to pergenize the first songs aimed at children and adults (which he would gather years later in the book “Tutu Marambá” in 1960) While publishing seminal records of national folklore, the two volumes of “Entre vallees y quebradas”, Walsh begins another extensive vr... iacute; artistic nculo with María Herminia Avellaneda and made a series of scripts in 1960 that presents her unbeatable characters Doña Disparate and Bambuco, with Pinky and Osvaldo Pachecho in the roles, which lasts a few months in 1960   , “The fault must have been mine, for not having known to give the popular note with due quality” In its extensive production the demolition of the boundaries between cult and popular will be their style, put upside up to see better, “I was told that in the Kingdom of Revés/Nothing the bird and the fish/That cats do not make meow and say yes/Because they study a lot of English” For Leopoldo Brizuela these two characters, the romantic Nonsense and the children's Bambuco, mean both sides, and puja, of the artist's soul.

“The Necochea festival was shining for its good intentions. But Maria Elena and Leda were something else, a delicacy that cut her breath. They sang with a shallow costume of minstrels, which in my memory was achieved with some colorful cloth clippings on their black tights, while actress Laura Saniez became the student cow, the ant Titina or the pájara Pinta and the children went crazy. When Maria Elena said “The moon is round” while with her hands she drew a square in the air, the words to explain her were made a knot on her lips, slower than her alert brains,” recalled Horacio Verbitsky, a neighbor of Walsh from childhood, in the   debut of “Canciones de Tutu Marambá”, a twist of the whole Argentine theater. Children would never again be the family's bobos in the statea - and the big ones, either   . Several of these avant-garde ideas, the search for an intelligent and active viewer, worried about his reality and critical of stereotypes, would continue in his television projects, especially in the scripts of his teletheaters   “With all my heart” and “Paloma at home” which brought gender perspective and gender equality. These novels without cinderella or sleeping beauty, obviously, failed.  

The varieté without ages would be confirmed with the event of “Canciones para mirar” in 1962, which started at the Teatro San Martín with a minimum budget and led with the support of the public, in one of the greatest phenomena of Argentine culture “But theatre -on Broadway - He never stopped filling, and that Monday was followed by another and another and whole months. Ecstasy adults who didn't understand anything about Castilian but who said to me, “Do you?   What does it mean vacadihumahuaca? “   One day a journalist from Life magazine came to interview us...   I didn't realize what was going on with “Songs to Watch” until they called us to do the photo shoot after some English still unknown... It was the Beatles! ”   China Zorrilla recalled that international impact along with Carlos Perciavalle. Walsh frantically created in the mid-sixties, books of magical porteñismo in the elephant “Dailan Kifki” (1966), “-Look, Mr. Fireman, “I replied, fire, actually, at this moment I can't offer you any, but... -But why did he call the Firefighter if there is no fire in the wardrobe nor did he burn his pot? ” and the theatrical version of”   Doña Disparate y Bambuco” (1966), which brings the classic of the classics of Manuelita, an endearing Argentine character who will have his film version in 1999 with Manuel García Ferré.  

“This surprises me, I don't know... I hesitated long before I did this   one-woman   show, which I dreamed of for a long time; - “disabrible, clean and suck,” as she self-defined, I thought I wouldn't give for more than a week, and now it's going to be three, and I'm happy but puzzled,” said a skeptic Walsh to the magazine Primera Plana in   1968 with the rupturist “Let's Play in the World”, a music hall at the Regina Theatre that would move the foundations to Ástor Piazzolla and Luis Alberto Spinetta. And only two surnames, for starters   . The powerful social criticism, Peronism, classes, emigration, on an unusual agenda in the Argentine song, and tinted with a certain melancholy,”   I am only against the modern when it is inhuman: the people of my generation were educated with another chronological measure”, restructured the poet   , whose voice seems from another time, was mixed with tango, jazz, rock and let's know what other rhythms (that LP sold ten thousand copies in a week, then it was an Avellaneda film in 1971) “I know you think/ what pretentious is Juana, /when it has roof and pan/also wants the window/ I'm like I am” from “La Juana” or in”   For others”, “I give the crazy right/and to the barbarian I give peace/My song and my heart/they are/ for others” accompany the sesentist impetus to take the sky by storm     “Because it hurts me if I stay, /but I die if I voy/with everything and in spite of everything/my love I want to live in you” from “Serenade for the earth” is perhaps one of the greatest songs to express love for the Fatherland.  

country of nomeacuerdo

  Queen Maria Elena in the Country of Nomeagreement  

The anguish, fears and violence of the seventies do not intimidate the poet and singer who releases several LP's, including the libertarian “Como la cicarra” (1972), and more books for the whole family, we quote “Chaucha y Palito” (1977) That year he decided to call himself silent in tune with the grave silence of a country devastated by State terrorism”   The ubiquitous and diligent censor transforms one of the most lucid cultural centers in the world into a kinder-garden that can only address the puerile, procaz, frivolous or historical past holy water. It has turned our so-called cultural environment into a pestilent hotbed of suspicions, denunciations, intrigues, presumptions and anathemas. He is, in short, a swindler of energies, a thief of our right of imagination, who should be constitutional... let us grow... the author “is very tired”... we kick and cry to form a huge river of snot that will give the sea of tears and blood which we knew how to get in this punishing land” blackmaked in the face of the dictators in the daily Clarín, “Desventuras en el country-garden-de-infantes”, in 1979   . The following year a tough battle against cancer would start that would take her away from the stage until in 1982 “Como la cicada”, “Prayer to Justice” and “Canción del Caminante”, in the song of Mercedes Sosa and the Zupay Quartet, would return her at work intense cultural, reorganizing the musicians' society, SADAIC, and   co-conducts the first feminist national television program, “Como la Cicarra” (1984), in the company of Susana Rinaldi and Avellaneda “Know why you are macho: Because you lack the main sense: humor”   Walsh responded laughing to Humor magazine.

“Maria Elena was not a militant, but her work and her public interventions defended women's rights, cultural diversity and Argentine identity,” explains Sergio Pujol, adding, “Descendant of English, Irish and Spanish immigrants, very urban in their habits and customs, great   flâneur   from the city of Buenos Aires and curious and voracious traveller, Maria Elena knew and admired Creole culture, her anonymous songbook and the grace of popular languages,   but did not conceive tradition as a corset   “, says Pujol. He didn't give up childhood and presented the novels for boys “Manuelita, where are you going? ” (1997), “Hotel Pioho's Palace” (2002) and “How much I count! ” (2004) In 2008 he also published in book form, for the first time, the original theatrical version of “Canciones para mirar” and “Doña Disparate y Bambuco”, and his latest novel, again between fiction and biography, “Fantasmas en el parque”   He dies     January 10, 2011 and his remains rest in Chacarita near Carlos Gardel.  

Walsh has received in life — since 1947 and   post mortem   — countless awards, tributes and awards, in Argentina and abroad, such as the appointment of Ilustrious Citizen of the City of Buenos Aires; Honorary Doctor of the University of Córdoba; Konex Prize for Platinum and Honorary in Letters; Highly Commended of the IBBY Hans Christian Andersen Award (International Board on Books for Young People) or the Honor Award of the National Arts Fund.

“You tell your life on this shore, and although you leave many ends loose, you allow us to baste data that are of a painful contemporaneity,” said Maria Elena's letters from her grandmother Agnes,” said Maria Elena,   what is the face of meat. How much speculation. Another revolution will ruin the country, which was coming forward. How soon do the victims of a war forget! The government people are so fickle. The Mail is not trusted. This country was never worse   ... was a century really passed? Yours do not differ from the letters that would write today another banished like you, or   a native of these places whose zozobras are repeated like a perverse game of mirrors   “In the 1950s, the poet and singer of Argentinity, in metaphors and direct truths,   Maria Elena Walsh saw the harvest of hope,     “And the time that keeps me today/between its living leafs/is a happy time for so much/dreams that will be born at the wakefulness.”  


PS: Please, let's start removing Maria Elena from the children's literature shelf. Please, there is no literature for boys or adults, only literature.   And Walsh is GREAT LITERATURE.  


Sources: Walsh, M. E.   Boyfriends of yesteryear.   Buenos Aires: South American Publishing House. 1990 and   Travel and tributes.   Buenos Aires. Reading point. 2004; Pujol, S.   Like the cicada. Maria Elena Walsh. A biography.   Buenos Aires. BEAS

Publication Date: 28/03/2021

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By: Clau Pas 12 February, 2021

Una genia María Elena Walsh se me quedan cortas las palabras. Q orgullo que haya sido Argentina 😍

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