Poet Leopoldo María Panero dies at 65

The author of ‘Teoría’ spent many of his years in and out of psychiatric wards

Leopoldo María Panero in Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, in 2001.
Leopoldo María Panero in Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, in 2001.ELVIRA URQUIJO A. (EFE)

Spanish poet Leopoldo María Panero, an essayist and actor who was known for his ground-breaking poetry, died on Thursday in Las Palmas, Gran Canaria, his publisher confirmed.

The 65-year-old poet passed away in the mental ward of Juan Carlos I Hospital, where he had been a patient for a number of years, Antonio Huerga said.

The author of such works as Teoría (Theory), Narciso en el acorde último de las flautas (Narcissus in the last chord of flutes) and Así se fundó Carnaby Street (This is how Carnaby Street was founded) was born in Madrid in 1948.

His father, Leopoldo Panero, who became one of the most famous poets of the post-Civil War period, was part of the Generation of '36, and his mother was actress Felicidad Blanc, who appeared in films later in life. His brother, Juan Luis Panero, was also a poet. The family has always attracted interest in cultural circles and was the subject of Jaime Chavarri’s cult documentary El desencanto (1976).

Poetry was his first love – he spewed out poetry”

Leopoldo María Panero, who began writing when he was young, had been in and out of other different mental institutions in the Canary Islands and the peninsula. He belonged to the group Nueve Novísimos, founded by Josep María Castellet.

"Poetry was his first love – he spewed out poetry," said Huerga, his publisher. "It was like a basic need, and that is why he never paid too much attention to the reader; it all came out so naturally."

Nevertheless, his publisher said he never took himself too seriously. "But when some reader would ask him which book of his he would recommend, he would enthusiastically answer: Teoría."

Jailed for his anti-Franco activities in early life, Panero battled alcoholism and drugs for many years. His last narrative work, Los héroes inútiles (The useless heroes), was published in 2005.

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