W. Michael Mudrovi

The approach of W. Michael Mudrovic (1947 - ) to the poetry of Claudio Rodríguez dates back to the 1970s when, after a journey through Castile, he discovered the poet’s verses and became fascinated with them forever. In 1976 he finished his Doctoral Dissertation, The Poetry of Claudio Rodríguez: Technique and Structure, elaborated under the guidance of the illustrious Hispanist Andrew P. Debicki.

Apart from dozens of articles on Claudio Rodríguez, in his thorough study Breaking New Ground: The Transgressive Poetics of Claudio Rodríguez (Bethlehem, PA, Lehigh University Press, and London, Associated University Presses, 1999), Mudrovic enlarges and summarizes his life-long research. He bases his study on the assumption that all of Claudio Rodríguez’s books are meticulously structured around a two-poem section that confers them an exclusive design and character while allowing for the autonomy and singularity of each poem.

The topic that unifies each book –all of which point at a different period in the poet’s evolution (and are separated by longer and longer time lapses— shows the effort of the poet to define his own identity by means of the equivocal and ambiguous communicative vehicle of language. Being familiar with the Spanish and European lyrical canon –as well as with the etymological roots of Spanish—, according to Mudrovic, he enjoyed an intuitive sense of rhythm and a special gift for metaphor. However, this highly efficient poetry regarding the signifier is also deeply and solidly rooted in Western philosophy.

In Breaking New Grounds, Michael Mudrovic offers an exhaustive reading and a thorough analysis of all the books, from Gift of Inebriation to Almost a Legend. The scholar resorts to plenty of critical and theoretical approaches, such as the theories of chaos and repetition, intertextuality, the psychoanalytic theory of Lacan, the elegiac conventions, and the notion of the sublime. The study of the Heideggerian concept of the Dasein provides a thematic unity to the whole. In addition, Mudrovic establishes a dialogue with other critics concerning the analysis of the best-known poems while dealing with poems almost never commented. As a conclusion, he looks into three poems that stay apart from the canonical books to render the portrait of the poet as a young artist, as a bull fighter and as a scapegoat of redemptive power. By casting some light upon the subtle tensions that underlie the dialogical use of language by the poet, Mudrovic welcomes new reflections on the poems and removes possible doubts about the literary quality of Claudio Rodríguez’s poetry, for him one of the most outstanding poets of the twentieth century.