Carles Rebassa (Palma, 1977) has published the poetry collections Requiescat in pace (with Pere Perelló), Poema B (Poem B), Els joves i les vídues (Young Men and Widows, winner of the XLIV Ausiàs March Poetry Prize), and Pluja de foc (Rain of Fire). Eren ells (It Was Them, winner of the 2016 Ciutat de Tarragona Pin i Soler award and the 2017 Ciutat de Barcelona award) is his first novel. He likes the orality of literature and, from an early age, has given recitals around the country and abroad. He is presently working on other books in which he aims to discuss ideas like the lie, power, the forest, reunion, and solitude in company. He has embraced as his own a poem by Miquel Bauçà which says: “Walk and laugh a lot: the secret of not getting tired”.
Living in an Unfinished Society
In the long-ago 1988 Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak first presented an essay with an eloquent title: Can the Subaltern Speak? This is the key question which any society should ask. Can subalterns speak in our milieu? Do non-dominant groups, people on the fringes of society have a voice? Can they express their stories, which are often uncomfortable, disagreeable and irredeemable? A society is made up of unheard voices, of stories that are forgotten or cast aside without becoming any kind of narrative that can be shared. Stories told tête-à-tête, through intimate channels, give us back the courage to manage not only what is beautiful or cosy, but also what is irrevocably difficult or painful.
The portrait of a group of sixteen-year-old boys raises a question: what’s this all about? Instead of starting out from ties of friendship or solid family relations, Carles Rebassa speaks of boys who only coexist in the same streets. He thus lays bare the vacuity of the belief that with mere proximity we have bonds of belonging. His book is a counter-model of the novel about shaping that was so influential in fixing spaces of collective identification, convincing us that if we move in the same places we already belong to an imagined community, to quote Benedict Anderson.
Smashing all SecuritiesEren ells deeply probes the vague notion of shared space and keeps shattering all certainties, one by one. The process of becoming an adult is described with unusual beauty and scenes of devastating tenderness. But Rebassa is not blind to the horrific danger of this progression either. The boys are prepared to transgress every limit they can easily turn into a hub of blind connivance—as in that academy where Robert Musil’s young Törless went—or they could get lost like young boys whose growth is brutally interrupted, as Blai Bonet so sensitively recounted.
Carles Rebassa’s novel not only raises the question of how to reach adulthood without irreparable damage but it also holds out a lucid response. The young author calls for an imperfect life, an unfinished city, and space for doubt and improvisation. It is in this constant confrontation with the unsolvable that we become strong as a society, hone our tools of analysis, and refine our ability to understand. By contrast, tolerance as a doctrine has no capacity for transformation and is suitable only for the television screens which entertain and console us.
Simona Škrabec. “Viure en una societat inacabada”, Ara Llegim (22 October 2016).
We Already Have Him Here: He’s Carles Rebassa!
Carles Hac Mor
Let everyone respect hugely and hugely the tremendous poem of the great prophet Carles Rebassa, and let no one dare to compete with him; may everyone simply wait until he appears in person, reciting his poem. And may he appear everywhere because he is his poem just as his poem is him.
And he will have come, and having listened goggle-eyed to his poem, you will all be on fire and we will have started to walk to where we already are and don’t know we’re there. And tired, without realising we’re tired of all this saying—and well, very well said—that there’s nothing to say, we’ll understand that he, that Rebassa is telling us everything and more: that there is a lot to say and that it can soon be said, this a lot and this everything, which is to say his rock-poem, which must turn us on and leave us pregnant with poetry, which rhymes with prophecy and anarchy.
“Let Carles Rebassa come down and chant his poem!” the people will cry. “Yes, and don’t make us beg too much for it!” the wannabe poets and loudmouths will grizzle. May his voice and his poem turn us into a bunch of wallies so we can affirm everything that all those negations require of us.
And he, with his poem-torrent will tell us that he only means that we should say everything that we already say for the sole fact of being what we are as individuals who ratify ourselves as deniers of everything that won’t let us, as subjects of the verb alçurar-se, get steamed up which, in fact, means accepting yourself by revolting against everything that demands that we must accept ourselves as we can’t be.
In any case, Carles Rebassa doesn’t preach anything. So much so that he doesn’t even preach the non-necessity of preaching. He sings—and it’s not just warbling—what we sing when we set about singing ourselves. He praises what doesn’t need to be sung but lived. Full stop. He gets us excited so that when we listen to him we excite ourselves on realising that we are what, at some point, we have known we are.
May Carles Rebassa recite on the lowest corner, not to mention the highest one, or the bar here next door. Or let them take him to places with prestige for with his yes-poem he’ll turn them into quite another thing.
What matters is this: may Carles Rebassa appear everywhere—and all the better if he isn’t taken anywhere, so let him recite wherever he is, wherever he wants—his no-poem (and he has more of them, of course, more poems but here we exalt his verses which set the spheres atremble because they witness the being that we are when we don’t want to be anything more than what we are, which is already a lot).
Long live Carles Rebassa! We want him now—a very dilated now—and here—a here as immense as his wind-poem. Long live his great poem chanted by him, a cry that, with the nihilist optimism of the vitality of the soles of his shoes, will make us drool to hoist the I of each and every one, inextricable from the I that we are, I and all my yous (which is no collective I)!
Carles Hac Mor. “Ja el tenim aquí: és Carles Rebassa!”, Avui Cultura (29 May 2003).