Elvira Sastre, When A Poet Goes Viral

The 25-year-old Spaniard is a millennial literary star, thanks to her deep culture, her talents and — naturally — her social media skills.

21st-century poet Elvira Sastre
21st-century poet Elvira Sastre
Walter Lezcano

How do we know that Elvira Sastre, a young voice, a self-described millennial poet, is a bona fide literary phenomenon? First, by the amount of readers she touches: People buy her books, they attend her readings (sometimes, even paying to enter) and they follow her en masse across social networks. In some way, she has created her own tribe and circulation circuit. But her being a phenomenon — and in this case, it's vital to understand this point — is also defined by the number of people who have lined up against her, and question what she writes.

In 2015, the Bogota-based newspaper El Espectador dedicated these words​ to the poet, translator, and narrator Elvira Sastre, from Segovia, Spain: "Sastre, 22 years of age, is to poetry what the Beatles are to rock. At least in the passions she ignites among her followers."

Born in 1992, she has been featured at top literary festivals across the world: Bogota Book Fair, Madrid and Soria Book Fair, Segovia Festival of Oral Narrators or Mexico City International Poetry Conference.

Sastre, who has just published her fourth book, The Solitude of a Body Accustomed to Injury, spoke about her beginnings in Spain: "I read a lot as a child, I was surrounded by books and people who read," she recalled. "I discovered other writers we weren't shown in class, like Juan Ramon Jimenez, Ruben Dario or Antonio Machado. Benjamin Prado and Luis Garcia Montero opened a whole different world to me."

Like other young poets such as Irene X and Sara Bueno, Sastre is part of a movement that some have dubbed "Follow Literature." In other words, writers that accumulate followers on social networks (Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and blogs) to build and increase the audience for their writing. This 25-year-old author was able to publish her first book, Forty-Three Ways of Letting Your Hair Down, after the publisher Lapsus Calami saw how popular she was on Twitter. As of today, Sastre has more than 84,000 followers.

She explains the importance of social networks: "They have helped me in terms of dissemination and promotion, but have also allowed me to meet both well-known authors and new ones, to create a community of support and help, and to be in contact with my readers."

Of her new book, she says, "Benjamin Prado once told me that your latest book should always be the best, and that is how I feel about this one. It was very painful to write it, it still is, but at the same time healing."

I did not invent anything.

Sastre says poems depict those moments where love is the danger of which one must beware. Double-edged sword, paradise or insurmountable condemnation, love is called into question and exposed as a minefield. She writes in "The Hole that Shelters You": I wonder if my name still hides / in your memory / the story that you will never be able to forget."

In another poem, she declares, "One takes their own lifetime to understand that they are no longer loved."

The everyday language that Sastre uses allows her to run all the filters of possible interpretation so that her readers do not encounter obstacles with the final meaning she offers. Something from that process allows an immediate connection with her Spanish and Latin American audience, and she has sold out auditoriums. "It is a responsibility. The people that go to a reading, sometimes even purchasing a ticket, go predisposed to like what they are going to hear. The poetry community is one of the best that exist because they give you their silence, which is so hard to get."

The whole impact of it all — unusual for a genre like poetry — has led some Spanish media to cast doubt, like some self-convened guardians, on the literary quality of her work. "Here in Spain, everything tends to be labeled in a very quick and undocumented way. A few times, I have read articles about me riddled with errors or empty arguments. That is irritating, but it is part of the journey." And, though she insists that she has largely been treated well, Sastre has noticed a bias that exists against "everything that comes from younger generations."

"I did not invent anything. I did not renew our language nor have I created a movement," she adds. "My way of writing is similar to that of my teachers, the poets I read. What has changed is the medium, and the new generations have understood how to take advantage of the Internet to spread their work. That really is different. Not the poetry."

Meanwhile, the millennial master is continuing to post new poems on her blog, writing for the website of El Cultural, working on her first novel world and reading to audiences around the world. There is a future.

This, from her own blog, is the poem: Lo reconozco ("I recognize")

I must recognize that maybe

you are not

in the right place that you deserve:

that one that I never vacate.

I must recognize that maybe

I do not need you in that

very violent way of animals

that pant misery

even if I am one of them.

That maybe this is something else

more peaceful typical of those that are

tired more by a smile than life itself

even if I am one of them.

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Spencer Tunick Nude Installation in Israel

Anne-Sophie Goninet, Jane Herbelin and Bertrand Hauger

👋 Salam!*

Welcome to Monday, where the UK pays homage to slain MP David Amess, Myanmar frees thousands of prisoners, and Facebook gets ready to build its "metaverse." Please fasten your seatbelts: Worldcrunch also takes stock of the long-lasting effects — good and bad — the pandemic has had on the air travel industry.

[*Azeri - Azerbaijan]


Myanmar to free political prisoners: Myanmar's junta chief Min Aung Hlaing has announced the release of 5,636 prisoners who had been jailed for protesting the coup that ousted the civilian government in February 2021.

• Powerful Haiti gang behind the kidnapping of U.S. missionaries: The notorious 400 Mawozo gang is believed to be behind the kidnapping in Haiti of a group of Christian missionaries, including 16 U.S. citizens and one Canadian. The brazen kidnapping on Saturday comes as crime is spiking since the killing of President Jovenel Moise in July.

• UK to pay tribute to David Amess: British lawmakers will pay homage in parliament to colleague David Amess, who was stabbed to death Friday in what was described by the police as a "terrorist incident." Officers arrested a 25-year-old suspect whose father, Harbi Ali Kullane, worked as a media adviser to a former prime minister of Somalia.

• COVID update: Russia has registered more than 34,000 cases of new infections in the past 24 hours, a new record since the start of the pandemic. Meanwhile, police in the northeast Italian city of Trieste used water cannons to clear striking dockworkers protesting Italy's new requirements that all employees be vaccinated.

• At least 26 killed in floods in India: Torrential rain has triggered floods and landslides in India's southern coastal state of Kerala, killing at least 26 people.

• Facebook to hire 10,000 in EU to develop "metaverse": The U.S. social media giant plans to hire 10,000 workers in the European Union over the next five years to build a "metaverse," a virtual reality version of the internet that the company touts as the future.

Punishing parents for children's bad behavior: After limiting gaming hours for minors, China is now considering legislation to reprimand parents if their children exhibit "very bad behavior" or commit crimes.


Colombian daily El Espectador dedicates its front page to Alex Saab, "owner of the secrets" of Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro. The Colombian businessman, wanted by U.S. authorities for allegedly laundering money on behalf of Venezuela's government, has been extradited from Cape Verde to the U.S. where he is scheduled to appear in court today.



China's economy registered its slowest pace in a year as the country faces a looming energy crisis with power shortages and increasing pressure on its property sector. Gross Domestic Product (GDP) for the period between July-September rose 4.9%, the weakest numbers since the third quarter of 2020 and significantly lower than forecasts. The world's second-largest economy faces a debt crisis linked to the China Evergrande Group debt crisis, while energy shortfalls have dropped factory output to its weakest since early 2020, when heavy COVID-19 curbs were in place.


7 ways the pandemic may change the airline industry for good

Will flying be greener? More comfortable? Less frequent? As the world eyes a post-COVID reality, we look at ways the airline industry has been changing through a pandemic that has devastated air travel.

⛽ Cleaner aviation fuel: With air travel responsible for roughly 12% of all CO2 emissions from transport, and stricter international regulation on the horizon, the industry is increasingly seeking sustainable alternatives to petroleum-based fuel. In Germany, state broadcaster Deutsche Welle reports that the world's first factory producing CO2-neutral kerosene recently started operations in the town of Wertle, in Lower Saxony. The plant, for which Lufthansa is set to become the pilot customer, will produce CO2-neutral kerosene through a circular production cycle incorporating sustainable and green energy sources and raw materials

.🛃 Smoother check-in: The pandemic has also accelerated the shift towards contactless traveling, with more airports harnessing the power of biometrics — such as facial recognition or fever screening — to reduce touchpoints and human contact. Similar technology can also be used to more efficiently scan physical objects, such as explosive detection. Ultimately, passengers will be able to "check-in" and go through a security screening anywhere at the airports, removing queues and bottlenecks.

✈️ The billion-dollar question: Will we fly less? At the end of the day, even with all these (mostly positive) changes that we've seen take shape over the past 18 months, the industry faces major uncertainty about whether air travel will ever return to the pre-COVID levels. Not only are people wary about being in crowded and closed airplanes, but the worth of long-distance business travel, in particular, is being questioned as many have seen that meetings can function remotely, via Zoom and other online apps.

➡️


"The crimes committed that night are unforgivable for the Republic."

— Emmanuel Macron became the first French president to commemorate the killing of as many as 200 Algerian independence protesters by Parisian police in 1961. For 40 years, French officials ignored the massacre, which took place a year before Algeria gained its independence from France after an eight-year war. In 2012, French President François Hollande acknowledged the killings for the first time on a visit to Algeria, and Macron took it further by attending Sunday's commemoration at the site where the events happened in the French capital. Still, many had hoped the French President would go further and take responsibility for a "state massacre," for a crime many historians consider the most violent repression of a peaceful demonstration in post-War Europe.


​Low trust, high risk: The global rise of violence targeting politicians

The deadly stabbing of British Parliament Member David Amess confirms an ongoing study on trust and governance in democracies around the world: It's bad. In The Conversation, James Weinberg — the study's author and a lecturer in Political Behavior at the University of Sheffield — writes:

⏪ The assassination of Amess, who was stabbed to death in his constituency on Friday, is a tragic moment for democracy. What makes it even more devastating is that such a catastrophic failure is not without precedent or predictability. Labour MP Jo Cox was shot at her constituency surgery in 2016. Before her, another Labour MP, Stephen Timms, survived a stabbing in 2010. And Andrew Pennington, a Gloucestershire county councilor, died in a frenzied attack in 2001 while trying to protect local Liberal Democrat MP Nigel Jones.

☝️ Beyond these critical junctures in the public debate about politicians' safety, elected representatives must live with an increasingly insidious level of popular cynicism that threatens violence on an almost daily basis.

🇬🇧🇳🇿🇿🇦 Not only are these experiences of abuse or threats of physical violence felt across both sides of the political aisle in the UK — they also appear to be growing more common in other democratic contexts where the climate of politics has been presumed to be both calmer and more volatile, from New Zealand to South Africa.

Read the full piece from The Conversation, now on

✍️ Newsletter by Anne-Sophie Goninet, Jane Herbelin and Bertrand Hauger

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