Ceremonies in the Catacombs

The following is the text of Mr. Paz's address at the 1987 Ingersoll Prizes Awards Banquet.

It moves me to be the recipient of the T.S. Eliot Award, established by The IngersoU Foundation to honor poets and writers of different languages. The emotion I feel is only natural. Primarily because of the award itself and what it signifies in the realm of contemporary literature: it is an award foreign to those two passions that pervert our culture, ideology and nationalism. Secondly, because of the eminence of my three predecessors: Jorge Luis Borges, Eugene Ionesco, and V.S. Naipaul. And finally, I am moved by the name T.S. Eliot. In all truth, though I mentioned it last, the fact that the award bears the name of the Anglo-American poet is of the utmost significance for me and is both intimate and symbolic. It is more than an award: it is a countersign, a password. I was an adolescent when I read Eliot for the first time, and that reading opened the doors for me to modern poetry; now upon receiving the award that bears his name, I see my life as a long "rites of passage" that leads me back, more than a half a century after my initiation, to one of the masters of my youth.

In 1930 I was 17 years old and eagerly read poetry. In those years a group of Mexican writers edited a literary journal, Contempordneos. The name of the magazine alluded to their intention to open doors and windows so that the...

Join now to access the full article and gain access to other exclusive features.

Get Started

Already a member? Sign in here