The poet Juan Manuel Rivas: “(The important thing) is not to be a dispenser of money for other people, a blow-up doll or a simple serial number”

“There is no escape” thought Rimbaud / There is no future”, said the Sex Pistols / “There is no time out”, say the comrades.

Fragment of the poem.

Juan Manuel Rivas (Antofagasta, 1975) is a poet, journalist and basic general education professor, a graduate of the Universidad Católica del Norte. He is also a performance actor. His first feature film, “Ciudad Laberinto”, was released in 2015 by the publishing house Los Perros Románticos. His second poetry collection La Mutación como Destino was published in 2018 by the Filacteria publishing house. Likewise, he appeared in anthologies in 2001, 2006 and 2021.

We speak exclusively of his first book, republished this 2022, which delves into a poem at times enigmatic, but which reflects the tensions and contradictions of the modern world, hangovers and anger, mirages and automatisms, in the space where the existences. : the city.

– How did the idea of ​​a second edition come about, after seven years?

– It arises from the interest of the publisher and myself to put the book back into circulation, since the copies of the first edition have run out. We wanted the book to have a new life since it was the first poetry book for Los Perros Románticos. We also wanted to give the book a more contemporary veneer, since a lot has happened in seven years, including the advancement of technology and this has been clarified in the six new poems that have been added to the collection, including Programming and Instagram.

– Regarding the above, what’s new and what’s left in this revamped Labyrinth City?

– That feeling of being a walker who discovers the city and its interaction in its corners that offer different journeys and concepts remains, so there is madness, alienation, the submission of technology, but also catharsis and pleasure. A more deterministic vision is added, mainly due to social networks that overwhelm us and transform us into other beings, which is the perfect bridge for my second book Mutation as Destiny.

– I am thinking of Artifacts, and of this idea of ​​collection or, in the same way, of waste. Is there something missing from this big basket? Something useful? The books? Mutation as fate?

– It might be a cliché to say such a thing, but it escapes this collection of objects, for example, the moments of humanity that are always close at hand anyway. Trying to get out of the pre-established schemes and live life spontaneously, without calculations or filters is one of the few things that are worthwhile. Logically one has one’s collections, I still buy compact discs and of course books that accompany me on a daily basis, I surround myself with them to establish my kingdom and that’s where I immerse myself to escape the imposed life, but for other people it may be other objects that escort the your safety. I don’t know, I guess technological gadgets, games, collectibles. The main thing is not to turn into an object. Don’t be a money dispenser for other people, a blow-up doll, or just a serial number.

– We understand that the city is inseparable from inhabiting and, therefore, from living. How do we inhabit the city from the poem, considering the social and cultural phenomena of recent times (epidemic, pandemic or increase in crime and violence)?

– We are, I think, in a special moment to poeticize life. Having been locked up for months, seeing the world from another perspective, has helped us translate certain behaviors, certain dynamics that we have all validated in our lives and which perhaps were part of the vortex of an imposed routine. In my personal case, when I stepped out again into the real, palpable world, I saw reality with different eyes and one of the few ways I had to express this paradigm shift was through poetry, although I imagine any form of art has been a good catalyst and a way of expressing itself to explain this critical moment in history.

– Let’s talk about virtuality, a topic that is very present in your book: virtual love, virtual work and education, what do we lose and what do we gain? There are possibilities in such an interconnected world, but where do extremism, hate speech or, on the other hand, political correctness proliferate?

– This is a delicate moment in many respects, we must be responsible for how we use the means at our disposal to build our lives. It is true that technologies, social networks and the virtual world have changed and made our lives easier on all levels, but at the same time, when we fully enter this world, we make a pact with the devil not to read the fine print and we can reach unwanted places not knowing how to use this medium critically and responsibly. The issue of bullying, incitement to hatred, the cowardice of haters are tangible realities that are commonplace in our daily lives. So we go back to the same starting point to face these situations and the only thing left is to hold on to your values ​​to know how to navigate the waters of this enchanted mirror of technology where you create a world to face your loneliness, but you are the same. ..

– What does the following verse mean, at the end of the Euphemisms: “consolation: to nest our identity in the spheres of the air/ Dictating dissidence in the invisible mirror worlds”?

– It has a bit to do with the previous question, being a dissident in the worlds of technology where the demon of the ego can appear to us and lead us to a bottomless abyss. Consolation goes alongside the dreams themselves and our images of light that inhabit our interior. Go into the personal forest and be ethereal and light. Of course this is just an interpretation, the reader can give it any connotation he wants.

– Tell us about your experience as a teacher and how it relates to the topics covered in the book.

– Precisely the fact of giving lessons in schools, especially on social risk, makes me perceive firsthand what is exposed here with the theme of technology and social networks, as well as being a direct observer of social processes through the eyes of my students. We see the devastating advance of cell phones in classrooms, how the dynamics of a now fragmented class have changed, often demotivated and where learning has diminished due to students’ anguish over controlling the phone.

I guess this kind of situation will inevitably lead us to other scenarios, but hey, it’s a reality. As for the rest, see the students’ interaction with technology and social networks, how they compare, how they relate, how the ego acts on them. You see, how some lose control. For the rest, I can detect the pulse of current life through their behaviors and speeches which, although not so elaborate, offer many perspectives and creative possibilities.

– What projects are on the way?

– For now I continue to promote the book and at the same time I’m looking for a new publishing house for my new book “The animal spirit”. There are also publications of some of my poems in some interesting spaces and I continue to write and finish other literary projects. Walking the path to see where it takes me.

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