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ADSactly Poetry: The forbidden poetry of María Calcaño


last yearSteemit6 min read

María Calcaño

The forbidden poetry of María Calcaño

In these days I have had the opportunity to re-read one of the most controversial Venezuelan poets of the last century: María Calcaño. This poet became known for making a type of poetry that was considered bold, taboo, insubmissive for her time. In Venezuela at the beginning of the twentieth century, where women were condemned to silence, to domestic life, to be on the margins of great events and especially to repress their sexuality and their feminine condition, Calcaño's writing emerges as a subversive and transgressive element that takes power, hence it has been criticized by some, even banned and even questioned its value as a poet.

María Calcaño's life could also have indisposed the conservative society of the time, as it was daring and reckless and ahead of its time. It is known that her parents married her to a man much older than her at the age of 14, with whom she had 6 children. The marriage was short-lived, as her husband not only had problems with alcohol but also mistreated her. After this scandalous separation, she looks for a lover, whom she then marries. In a puritanical society at the beginning of the 20th century, like that of our country, women were destined and disciplined to marry only one man, to have children, to realize their house, to go against these social and moral canons could be scandalous, and Maria Calcaño did it.


One of the taboo subjects raised by Calcaño in almost all of her work is eroticism. Her writing stripped of social norms speaks of pleasure and the female body. Here is a simple example:

The take
My roots climb
of your beloved hands
and wrapped in caresses
I can hardly see myself anymore.
Man party in one hundred
that you force me to live
in my bare breasts
unleash your rudeness,
for them to have
that hard varnish
that they lack a man.

In the first stanza of this poem there is a clear allusion to the sexual feelings that the man awakens in the lyrical voice. She perceives the hands of the man as if they were roots and in the image there is not only suggestion to the fingers, but also to the way in which they expand throughout the body. Similarly, in the third stanza, the lyrical voice speaks of this multiplied man and invokes the strength of the male body, in contrast to hers, which makes her feel ecstatic and rejoiced.


Prohibited and licentious love is another of the recurring themes in her poems. Let's review poem 8 of the book Songs that my last dolls heard:

Her shirt is made of fabric
But when it approaches
It's like a flame.
that hugs my neck.
Because I forget everything.
I don't know if I cry out for love
or is it the trance
of the burn
that my blood keeps
like a flower of flame...

And I don't know his name.
I don't even remember his face.
But it passes by my side
and I die again.

In these three stanzas we see the presence of a woman who talks about how she feels when she sees the man she wants. The lyrical voice maintains a romantic tone, but with a carnal background. She points at the man's shirt to point out how ordinary he is, she even says she does not remember or know him well, but even so, the man is able to awaken her desire, the only thing alive and present in it. In this poem, Calcaño transgresses the norm by allowing herself to speak of the desire that an unknown man can provoke: his body is flame and fire when she sees it.


María Calcaño was a free spirit, aware that she subverted the established social moulds, that her poetry scandalized, which is why she wrote her famous poem: Grito indomable:

How are they going to see me good?
if you thunder me
life in the veins.
If every song
I'm tangled up like a flame
and I come without God
and without fear...
If I have insubordinate blood
and I can't show myself
as docile as a maid,
as long as I have
a memory of horizon,
a piece of heaven
and a mountain ridge.

Neither you, nor heaven
or anything
will be able with my indomitable scream.

María Calcaño

When we review María Calcaño's poetry, in the light of what some poets are doing in this 21st century, we feel that there are no reasons for scandal and rejection. Her verses, sometimes romantic and innocent, speak of a woman conscious of her body and her rights but very ahead of her time. A woman who had as a sin to say what others did not dare, even though they felt it.

It is interesting to know that since the world was created, women are looking for a way to make themselves heard, to get out of the crystal square in which some societies have them. A woman capable of accepting her obligations, but willing to fight for her rights.

I hope you enjoyed reading this post. I remind you that you can vote for @adsactly as a witness and join our server in discord. Until a next smile. ;)


Complete poetic work by María Calcaño (2008). Monte Ávila Latin American Publishers: Venezuela.

Written by: @nancybriti

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