The following article is published in the #RGNNMadrid Magazine: Vol. V, Summer 2018, produced during ROOSTERGNN Academy’s Travel Journalism, Photography & Video Internship Seminar in Madrid, Spain, under the editorial direction of RGNN Expert and Mentor Juanjo Montanary. Follow #RGNNMadrid for all of our Madrid coverage.

The myth of poetry being dead needs to be debunked and what better way to do it, than by walking-it-like-it-needs-to-be-talked and cruising through this streamlined poetry circuit of Madrid? Offering substantial excitement, this article puts a new spin on an old-man’s passion.

Madrid’s Poetry Circuit, click here for the link | Sara Cordovez

The route will take you 6.3 kilometers and 10 sites deep into the poetic scene: from iconic libraries, exhibitions, to statues and cafés, uncover how poetry lives and breathes in Madrid.


Federico García Lorca’s statue

In the Plaza de Santa Ana stands Federico García Lorca’s true-size bronze sculpture by Julio López, depicting the poet holding an open-winged dove. The quiet and sleepy Plaza witnesses Madrid’s tribute to one of its most revered lyricist. A beautiful way to start the day, bringing to mind one of Lorca’s verses: ‘In the vivid morning/ I wanted to be myself./ A heart.’ (Tune of First Desire). In Madrid, Lorca (1898-1936) became the most recognized author of the Generation of ’27, before being assassinated during the Spanish Civil War. Erected in the 90s, the statue is surrounded by cafés, and breakfast smells rush in: freshly-made coffee and just-baked pastries, enticing you to sit and admire.

Museo Nacional de Artes Decorativas

‘Impossible encounter’, in The Díez in the Expanded Fields exhibition at the Museo Nacional de Artes Decorativas | Sara Cordovez

After a walk along Calle de Alcalá and down through Paseo del Prado, the free-entry Museo Nacional de Artes Decorativas holds an exciting temporary display, ‘The Díez in the Expanded Fields. Industrial design and visual poetry’. Curated by the Díez Brothers, Madrid’s design power-duo, the exhibition transforms the everyday object into either industrial design or visual poetry. The artful creations hold poetic treasures for all. The exhibition is part of the Museum’s new motto, ‘Designing our surroundings’, with staff Paula Hernández, 34, characterizing this and upcoming exhibitions as ‘creating a new path, a change in profile’ for the Museum.

Hiperión Editorial

Hiperión’s façade | Sara Cordovez

Walking along Parque el Retiro and past Puerta de Alcalá, Hiperión is a paradise of Spanish poetry. Established in 1975, this initially small editorial, focusing on translation, quickly became a poetry-specialized bookshop, whose mission was tied to the import of the literary Orient and championing local authors. With a gold-letter-on-white-marble exterior, Hiperión looks formal on the outside, but the inside is rows upon rows of books in racks and on tables, telling the story of a publishing house committed to bringing the latest and newest.

Museo de la Biblioteca Nacional

The stunning architecture of the Biblioteca Nacional de España | Sara Cordovez

The Biblioteca Nacional de España and its Museum stand on Paseo de Recoletos. Its stunnning architecture is very much a reflection of what can be found inside: a collection of rare and profoundly special books. The free-entry Museum holds a superbly curated set of exhibitions, with the temporary ‘The Camera of Making Poems’ presenting the alluring intersection between photography and poetry. The whole point of the Museum, staff Mario López, 29, explains, is to ‘showcase the Library’s collection, because it is otherwise unavailable to the general public’. The atmosphere is like a still lake and a pre-lunch coffee at its Café Literario completes this enriching dip into culture.


Gran Café de Gijón

The fresh and cool terraza at Café Gijón | Sara Cordovez

On the other side of the Paseo, the red sunshades and marble façade immediately give away the utter elegance that this emblematic Café exudes. Established in 1888, Café Gijón has been the go-to place for many generations of poets: the ’27, the ’36 and ’98 all found, within its dark wood-paneled interior, a haven. A waiter, who has worked there for over 40 years, describes how ‘a chair in one of our literary gatherings was worth more than a place at the Royal Academy’. The lush inside might be intimating, with its cream-colored tablecloths and signed portraits of Spain’s most admired poets, but the terraza provides then a casual alternative to enjoy delicious Castilian cuisine-recommended: the croquetas!


Berkana, Gay and Lesbian Bookshop

Inside Berkana, a landmark in the Chueca district | Sara Cordovez

Westwards, towards Chueca, you will find Berkana, a landmark in the Ibero-American queer community: the very first specialized LGTBI+ bookstore in the Hispanic world. The bright pink façade leaves no room for question: Berkana wants to be seen and understands the importance of its visibility. Store founder Mili Hernández, 59, explains that the library ‘has been there a long time, and is turning 25 this year’. Narrative, theory, history, illustration, photography books, mugs and even abanicos can all be found in Berkana. Just around the corner, fashion boutiques and restaurants to make an afternoon out of it.

Arrebato Books

Arrebato’s exterior is a staple for malasañeros | Sara Cordovez

Crossing Chueca into the heart of Malasaña, what could only be described as a treasure awaits: Arrebato. The monument of independent editorials, this editorial/second-hand bookshop/cultural space is responsible for the most fascinating poetry events in Madrid: the Rain of poems and the Poetas Festival. Staff Andres Alonso, 35, describes how the ‘bookshop’s strength lies in poetry, we place our bets on independent editorials… We live poetry’. This enthusiasm is nothing short of the truth: in Arrebato, the love for poetry can be felt in every inch of the high-ceilinged store, a mixture of second-hand gems, independent editorial’s books and everything in between.


Café Comercial

Café Comercial bustling with life | Sara Cordovez

Up north through Calle de Fuerrancal, Glorieta de Bilbao bursts with life and blooms into the Café Comercial, Madrid’s poetry scene crown-jewel. Comercial opened in 1887 and by the time it had to close in 2015, it was a literary institution- so much so, that petitions for its re-opening were fruitful. Since its 2016 refurbishment, the mythical Comercial finds itself between tradition and innovation, having made a home for itself in this intersection while remaining inherently madrileño. The old: the space itself, art deco ambiance oozing class at every breath, and the new: delicately-presented food with surprising touches at every bite. Amazing place for people watching!

Visor Books

Variety is a must in Visor’s bookshelves | Sara Cordovez

After a trek (or 2 metro stations), Visor’s black graphic logo peeks around the corner. The bookstore’s passages, made out of floor-to-ceiling bookshelves, convey its playful yet poised spirit. With more than 50 years in the business, this poetry-focused editorial born in Madrid has managed to become one of Latin America’s most prestigious editorial, organizing international festivals and gifting poetry to the Spanish-speaking world. Its recognizable black edition, the ‘Colección Visor de Poesía’, a poetry anthology with over 85 titles, is a household must. This is a place to find the old and established, as well as the new and upcoming.


Café Aleatorio

Marcus Versus reciting a Spanish translation of Allen Ginsberg’s ‘Howl’ in Aleatorio | Sara Cordovez

What a perfect way to end the day. With its almost-nightly poetry recitals, themed nights and poetry jams, Aleatorio provides everything a good poetry-hub should have: a profound passion for poetry. It is owned by a group of friends and run with their other friends in mind, all ‘poetry junkies’, as co-owner and poet Escandar Algeet, 34, self-proclaims. The vibe is inclusive, its crowd very much mirroring Aleatorio’s name: random. Marcus Versus, 40, co-owner and editor, puts it best: ‘the people that usually go through here have no defined profile, they come from all ages, backgrounds and credentials, from the not-yet-published poets to consecrated big names- here, everyone becomes a madrileño poet’.


Fact Box:

Federico García Lorca’s Statue

Plaza de Santa Ana, 28012 Madrid

All day, every day.

Museo Nacional de Artes Decorativas

Calle de Montalbán 12, 28014 Madrid

Tuesday to Saturday: 9:30–15 h, Sundays and holidays: 10–15 h

Hiperión Editorial

Calle Salustiano Olozaga 14, 28001 Madrid

Monday to Thursday:  10–18 h, Friday: 10–15 h

Museo de la Biblioteca Nacional

Paseo de Recoletos 20-22, 28071 Madrid

Tuesday-Saturday: 10–20 h, Sundays and holidays: 10–14 h

Café Gijón

Paseo Recoletos 21, 28004 Madrid

Tuesday-Saturday: 10–20 h, Sundays and holidays: 10–14 h

Berkana, Gay and lesbian bookshop

Calle Hortaleza 62,  28004 Madrid

Monday to Friday: 10–21 h, Saturday: 11:30–21 h, Sunday: 12–14 / 17–20 h

Arrebato Books

Calle de la Palma 21, 28004 Madrid

Monday to Saturday: 10:30–14/ 17–20:30 h

Café Comercial

Glorieta de Bilbao 7, 28004 Madrid

Monday to Friday: 8:30–2 h, Saturday and Sunday: 9–2 h

Visor Books

Calle Isaac Peral 18, 28015 Madrid

Monday to Friday: 10–14 / 17–20 h, Saturday: 10–14 h

Aleatorio Bar

Calle Ruiz 7, 28004 Madrid

Tuesday to Sunday: 19–03 h