Violence Suffocated a Father’s Poetry, but Not His Voice

As a poet, novelist and essayist, Javier Sicilia tapped a deep strain of Catholicism to obsess over “the mystery of God in a broken world,” as he put it two years ago when he was awarded Mexico’s top poetry prize.

Now that his own world had been shattered by the killing of his son in March — an innocent, the police said, caught up in a drug-trafficking attack that captivated the nation — Mr. Sicilia, 56, said he had kept his faith but had felt it sink to a “dark, deep place.” So he turned to that other mystery, poetry.

After burying his son, Juan Francisco, 24, a university student who was found bound and shot along with six friends in the city of Cuernavaca, Mr. Sicilia stood before well-wishers and read his latest work, an ode to his son:

The world is not worthy of words

they have been suffocated from the inside

as they suffocated you, as they tore apart your lungs …

the pain does not leave me

all that remains is a world

through the silence of the righteous,

only through your silence and my silence, Juanelo.

Then, Mr. Sicilia, one of the country’s most acclaimed poets, told those who had gathered that they had just heard the last poem he would ever write.

“Poetry doesn’t exist in me anymore,” he explained later in an interview.

But that does not mean Mr. Sicilia has any intention of remaining quiet.


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