“May his poetry suffer: may it be worth his life. If he’s not willing to pay that price, he’d better let it go.” In this letter from Salvador Espriu, in 1963, he both clipped his wings and planted a seed in Ventura Ametller (pseudonym of Bonaventura Clavaguera, Pals, 1933-Mataró, 2008), who in addition to being a veterinarian developed a literary work that with he barely saw the light of day with a philosophical treatise, a couple of poetry collections and two novels, plus a posthumous poetry anthology. No, he didn’t let it run, but spurred it on.

Edicions de 1984 is now publishing his complete poetic work in two volumes totaling 1,600 pages, with a foreword by Jaume C. Pons Alorda and Carles Duarte and an epilogue by Marta Puigventós, responsible for the inventory and the first edition of the poems. “In Ventura Ametller there is the courage of someone who honestly confronts the bright and fierce, warm and fleshless face of who we are. And it does so by relying on a dense and generous culture of reading and thinking, which is nourished by a very rich baggage of symbolic and mythological elements”, write Pons Alorda and Duarte.

According to his daughter Teresa, “his work was difficult because it was out of his time, with a very cryptic universe of his own. He made incursions into the poetic world but his poetry was not understood or felt valued”. “He worked tenaciously, almost obsessively”, and precisely because he was out of chapel “he created with absolute freedom an unclassifiable work, without owing anything or anyone”. His is, he says, a work “linked to life experience”, in the Empordà region with the presence of love and pain, “but in a universal way, from a philosophical point of view”. The editor of Edicions de 1984, Josep Cots, who will publish more works, assured that the book “alters the poetic canon and puts it next to Vinyoli, Sampere, Espriu or Palàcios, as a disruptive element”.

Cots remembers the friendship with Pla (who even asked him to write his biography, for which he took notes that Xavier Pla has used for his recent book), and his daughter Teresa goes further and explains how before Espriu’s aforementioned letter, a young Ametller in his thirties went to Llofriu with his poems in a shoebox: Pla and he were reading and selecting them, and those that didn’t pass the cut ended up burned in the fireplace.

It was the surviving poems that reached the poet of Sinera, and his harsh response began by saying that “his verses today are nothing. I mean they are still reports. You have no linguistic mastery at all, as you well know, neither a world nor an expression of your own. His thought and his feelings are high and magnificent, but this is not yet, not even remotely, poetry, at least in my modest understanding”. But then comes some advice that will be taken as a maxim for the rest of his life: “Work hard with your language, avoid all kinds of abstract or too transcendental or general thoughts and feelings, don’t want to say more than what is within your reach , don’t get bogged down in illustrious quotes, pick the concrete beauty, down to earth. Don’t let yourself be carried away easily”, to finish by insisting that poetry is “that which cannot be said in prose and which is at the end of the road, it is the fifth essence of an experience or a pain, it is that which is almost beyond words and which prepares our right to silence, is the last and bare simplicity, it is a terrible fight for an often unattainable conquest”.

Ametller wrote meticulously, and if he didn’t publish more poems it was because of disappointment with the environment or perhaps also, as Cots points out, because “at the time there were poets who monopolized the scene”. In any case, he left everything almost ready for later publication, and as Puigventós recalls in the epilogue, when he was already “at the gates of death” he told his son-in-law, the painter Josep M. Codina, ” while pointing to the pile of folders and notebooks that kept hundreds of poems and diaries”: “You yourself, do what you want with it”. When the time came, the family looked for advisers who could validate his work, among whom, in addition to Pons Alorda and Duarte, were Laura Borràs, Miquel de Palol or Lluís Racionero, who came to say of him that “is Dalí put into words”.