The Arrival of the Orchestra

Gustavo Pereira is one of Latin America's most prolific poets, the best-known Venezuelan poet of his generation, a leading spirit in his country's Bolivarian revolution and a prominent supporter of President Hugo Chávez (who once invited him to serve as Minister of Culture). Pereira has written over 30 books exploring Venezuela's Spanish, Indian and revolutionary traditions. In 2008 the Caracas World Poetry Festival was dedicated to Pereira. A member of the Venezuelan National Constituent Assembly, he is the author of the preamble to the Constitution of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela which defines culture as a legal right. The Arrival of the Orchestra is the first publication of Pereira's work in English.

Sample Poems

End of history

'Capitalism is the end of history' (Francis Fukuyama)

Shiny metals might survive but not butterflies
plastics and rubble but not petals covered in dew
guilds of ruffians but not loners
banquets and parties but not joy
noise and din but not the melodies of morning
tables laden as never before but not the aromas
narrow–mindedness of the spirit but not compassion
edicts of power but not the secrets of conversation
one–armed bandits but not unbelievable luck
whores and vixens but not the goddesses of the night
harshness and ferocity but not revelations
integrated circuits but not the awakening of meadows
the stench but not the perspiration of lovers
stupidity and vulgarity but not the evidence of sensibility
the round and the square but not the indecipherable
dresses and jewellery but not the transparency of waters

metaphors but not poetry.

The arrival of the orchestra

I think silences are good
          But how long must these silences last
Enough of silences
Let the orchestra come!
Let the grave, raucous and
     melancholic blaze of the great tempest come!
And the sweet street ballad
And the noise of people and cars
And the entire guitar of my breast
          made to resonate by the hurricane
Let life come
          with its peaks and troughs
Let the seas and winds come
          and the rains and desolation
and the dust of the roads and the fatal
          mists of solitude
Let mad fortune come wearing a Phrygian bonnet
To know we are alive!

On savages

The Pemones of the Gran Sabana call dew Chirïké–yeetakuú, which means Saliva of the Stars; tears are called Enú–parupué, which means Liquor of the Eyes, and the heart, Yewán–enapué, is called Seed of the Belly. The Waraos of the Orinoco Delta say Mejo–koji (Sun of the Breast) to describe the soul. To say friend, they say Ma–jokaraisa: My Other Heart. And to say Forget they say Emonikitane which means To Forgive.

These stupid people don't know
      what they are saying
To say earth they say mother
To say mother, they say tenderness
To say tenderness, they say to give oneself

They are so emotionally confused
That, with good reason, refined people that we are,
      we call them savages.


'powerful political rhetoric hailing the revolution'


'Highly recommended,'

Morning Star

'In this remarkable book, Gustavo Pereira reflects with insight and eloquence the reawakening in Venezuela that offers us all the threat of a good example.'

John Pilger

'There are only a handful of poets on this planet who can write political, intelligent, uncompromising poetry that is still relevant and accessible. Gustavo Pereira is one such poet. His poetry is direct, his focus is clear; he is a true revolutionary who has chosen his weapon well.'

Benjamin Zephaniah