Imagen de migrantes - AP/JEREMIAS GONZALEZ
AP/JEREMIAS GONZALEZ - Migrants wearing life jackets provided by volunteers from the Ocean Viking, a migrant search and rescue ship run by NGOs SOS Mediterranee and the International Federation of the Red Cross (IFCR), still sail in a wooden boat as they are being rescued Saturday, Aug. 27, 2022

Geopolitics, obstinate as it is, insists in recent times on reminding us of the frontier nature of the Mediterranean, the sea between lands. The migrants that flow through the eastern, central and western routes - see Migratory Flows: Eastern, Central and Western Mediterranean Routes - Consilium ( -, the shipwrecks (with the consequent number of victims they entail) in which many of the crossings undertaken end and, finally, the social and political repercussions that these events have on national and supranational European institutions, mean that the historical, cultural and even recreational dimensions of this sea have been relegated in our imaginations.

Of many of these dimensions (including the migratory one), an excellent essay, "El sueño de Ulises" (Madrid, Taurus, 2022), in which Professor Ruiz-Domènec brings together his reflections on the Mediterranean as a historical scenario, in a temporal journey that goes "from the Trojan War to the pateras", gives an account of many of these dimensions.

The different artistic disciplines, in their attempt to understand the contemporary world and give it meaning, cannot ignore the impact that the tragedies associated with migrations have on our societies. Documentaries such as "Cartas mojadas" (Paula Palacios, 2020), reviewed at the time in this publication (Mirar las migraciones, or the drama Mediterráneo (directed by Marcel Barrena in 2021, and recognised with several Goya and Gaudí awards), have approached Mediterranean migrations from the audiovisual medium.

From the visual arts, the initiative of the Istituto Italiano di Cultura di Madrid, which programmed, between February and April of this year (coinciding with the start of the ARCO 2023 fair), three exhibitions with the common title of "El mar entre tierras" (The sea between lands, 3 exhibitions - Istituto Italiano di Cultura di Madrid, can serve as an example. Using different materials and techniques, the artists in these exhibitions approached migration issues from different perspectives (the attentive gaze on the other, the social dimension of geographical space, the body and memory, the tension between migration and adaptation, and the Mediterranean as a reflection of the problems of global society).

This vision of the Mediterranean as a frontier of water and salt is completed in literature with the recent publication of the collection of poems "Libro mediterráneo de los muertos", by M.ª Ángeles Pérez López (Pre-textos, 2023). Like the much-missed Ana Luísa Amaral in some poems from What's in a name (Vaso Roto, 2020), evoked in these pages (Poéticas de la migración, M. ª Ángeles Pérez draws inspiration from specific events (such as the fire in the Moria refugee camp, the corpses of migrants returned by the sea after shipwrecks or the embrace of Luna Reyes, the Red Cross volunteer, to the immigrant who has recently arrived in Ceuta) to transcend them with her poetic language: an imagery with surrealist roots to which she adds a precise linguistic formulation.

What we might call the "poetic paragraph" replaces the stanza in the formal conformation of the poems, which also include footnotes that do not refer to a specific place in the preceding text, and which give each piece the appearance of an academic text that needs to be glossed.

The surrealist matrix is linked to the Buñuel of "Un perro andaluz" ("Then the eyes are dogs of the shadow. They bark at a moon they do not see, driven mad by the metallic curtain of the eyelid. There is no blade that crosses that place" (p. 11); or to Leonora Carrington and her crocodile-boat (p. 23, note 1). Goya's half-sunken dog is also explicitly referred to (p. 19, note 3).

The striking image that gives the title to "Noventa y nueve estrellas de mar y una coda", the poem with which the book opens, is a good example of the strength and precision of the author's poetic language: "In the night when Europe's sun burns, ninety-nine starfish sleep on the beach in a sheath" (p. 9).
The verbalisation of the aforementioned embrace between Luna Reyes and the newly arrived immigrant serves as an example of the elaboration that poetic language operates in reality: "In the extreme desolation, only the girl who embraces the migrant will be transparent. Both transparent in the atrocious, the tumefact, the infamous alphabet of the real" (p. 39). In the end, as in Ana Luísa Amaral, there is a reflection on the capacity of language to account for reality, whatever its nature ("the tomb is not the sea but language", p. 42).

In short, in recent times migratory routes have once again highlighted the character of the Mediterranean as a frontier, often insurmountable. The tragedies derived from this reality have led artists to place it at the centre of their concerns, seeking alternative perspectives on social and political events through different media and formats that only the arts can offer.

Luis Guerra is Professor of Spanish Language.