Jose Valente; Spanish Poet Taught at UC Irvine
Jose Angel Valente, 71, a Spanish poet who worked for the United Nations and taught at UC Irvine. Valente’s mystical and metaphysical poetry won him dozens of literary awards, including Spain’s Queen Sofia Poetry Award. Only 18 when he published his first work, Valente wrote in Spanish and Galician, the language of the coastal northwest region of Spain where he lived. Intrigued by the limits of language in expressing reality, Valente commented in the Dictionary of Literary Biography: “The poet must continue in his task, in spite of the inherent ambiguities, inconsistencies and imperfect approximations that language entails. It is within the context of these difficulties that the reader’s role becomes paramount. Both poet and reader must approach the language of poetry as a starting point: poet, word, idea and reader all participate in the ongoing process of the creative act.” Valente’s poetry merged his philosophical thinking with details of daily life, including politics, family relationships and historical events. A native of Orense, Spain, Valente served in the Spanish government and with the United Nations in New York. At UC Irvine, he was an assistant professor teaching courses on the Spanish civil war. On Tuesday in Madrid of cancer.