“Antología” – Lambert Schlechter

“The Cartonera, an independent, artistic, and artisanal publisher, publishes books with covers made from cardboard collected from the streets of Cuernavaca, Morelos in Mexico. Each of our copies is a unique experience because, in addition to good literature, each of the covers is painted by an artist in our collective workshops,” is the headline on La Cartonera’s website. This publisher is a concept in itself: it is independent, receives no support from any institution, works in an artisanal and non-profit manner. It is, in short, an artistic endeavor that emerges against the current in a context where books seem to be increasingly scarce precious gems, but no less valuable for it.

This publisher also has a deep interest in bringing unconventional titles, such as “Contagio Cartonero: Creation in the Time of Pandemic.” In this book, an organizing committee from Mexico, Colombia, Peru, and Venezuela gathered photographs, illustrations, and texts from over 40 participants ranging from preschoolers to adults. From Argentina, Colombia, Bogotá, Mexico, and Venezuela, artistic proposals such as illustrations, drawings, poems, and stories were gathered to respond to the growing need for unity and survival in the face of the pandemic and thus combat the uncertainty and fear of the moment.

Among these titles, one captivated me for its colors and format. Still, above all, I for its content because upon browsing it, I found that La Cartonera was the first publisher to translate this Luxembourgish author into Spanish in Mexico. Additionally, this edition is bilingual Spanish-French, confronting the texts head-on, allowing for more authenticity and depth by knowing the translated original words. It is a print run of only 150 copies, presenting an anthology of poems and letters by Lambert Schlechter, who is a philosopher and writer of poetry, novels, and essays who has been dedicated to his work as a writer since the early 1980s, and who was also named a Knight of Arts and Letters in 2001.

Although these poems and letters are extracted from other titles by the author, the selection made by the publisher is so good that all the poems seem intertwined and offer a consistent reading. However, I find another detail in these poems: the writer writes about the fact of being a writer. Not many do that; sometimes, the authors try to distance themselves from their works as if they were only concerned about what people or critics will say about their work. I appreciate it when authors are honest with themselves and their writing; it feels authentic. So, in a nutshell, I find Lambert Schlechter, as a poet, tremendously authentic and honest. The letters interspersed with the poems only reinforce this, adding, in any case, more complexity and richness to the poetry.

The themes that Schlechter touches on in his literary works are diverse, which makes a lot of sense when we consider that it has been over 35 years of career; however, universal topics can be found, such as the perception of the passage of time, desire, the complexity of life and death, nature, eroticism, and everyday life. Personally, I find it fascinating when poets talk about what they know and what surrounds them; it allows us not only to understand more about their lives but also to know their perspective on it, to distinguish their opinions, perceptions, conflicts… And realize that even though we may come from different backgrounds, social strata, generations, and genders, intrinsic things unite us as human beings.

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