Club 7, or Club Siete, was a significant group of poets formed in Guayaquil, Ecuador, and active from 1951 to 1962. The origin of the group’s name, Club 7, can be traced back to its initial formation with seven members: David Ledesma Vázquez, Gastón Hidalgo Ortega, Carlos Benavides Vega, Ileana Espinel Cedeño, Sergio Román Armendáriz, Carlos Abadíe Silva, and Miguel Donoso Pareja. However, the group experienced a change in dynamics when it became known that Ledesma and Benavides were homosexual. As a result, Donoso and Abadíe decided to leave the group. Despite this loss, the remaining five members continued their collaboration and published an anthology titled “Club 7” in 1954. In 1960, three of the members, Ledesma, Román, and Espinel published another collection called “Triángulo,” showcasing their continued literary endeavors.
Club 7 (or Club Siete) holds a significant place in the poetry of Ecuador, particularly Guayaquil. Founded in Guayaquil in 1951, this group of talented poets made a lasting impact on the nation’s literary scene. Through their publications, unique style, and shared experiences, Club 7 left an indelible mark on Ecuadorian literature.
Formation and Members
Club 7 was initially comprised of seven young poets, symbolically representing their unity and shared artistic aspirations. The founding members were:
- David Ledesma Vázquez (1934-1961)
- Gastón Hidalgo Ortega (1929-1973)
- Carlos Benavides Vega (1931-1999)
- Ileana Espinel Cedeño (1934-2001)
- Sergio Román Armendáriz (1934)
- Carlos Abadíe Silva (?-?)
- Miguel Donoso Pareja (1931-2015)
However, shortly after its establishment, the group saw the voluntary departure of Carlos Abadíe Silva and Miguel Donoso Pareja. By most accounts, both writers left the group after finding out that David Ledesma Vázquez and Carlos Benavides Vega were homosexuals.
In a 2010 interview Sergio Román Armendáriz, the only member still alive, said: “But, before launching the anthology [“Club 7″], two friends decided to separate [from our group], one, Miguel Donoso Pareja, to prioritize his narrative, and the other, Carlos Abadie Silva, to prioritize his music.”
However, Donoso himself explains in his 1994 memoir that he and Abadíe Silva decided, at the last minute, to remove their poems from the book [“Club 7”] because they had found out that two of the group’s members [Ledesma and Benavides] were homosexual. Donoso apologizes and expresses regret for his attitude at the time, which was influenced by “environmental pressure and stupidity, lack of personality, and caveman primitivism.”
Literary Style and Publications
Club 7 showcased a diverse range of literary styles and themes, incorporating elements of symbolism, existentialism, and socialist ideals. Their works reflected a synthesis of various influences, including Parnassian and Symbolist traditions as exemplified by Rubén Darío’s Modernismo.
The group’s dedication to artistic expression and their desire to make a lasting impact on Ecuadorian literature is evident in their publications. One significant work is the anthology titled “Club 7,” published in 1954 by the remaining five members of the poetry group. Following the departure of Miguel Donoso Pareja and Carlos Abadíe Silva, David Ledesma Vázquez, Gastón Hidalgo Ortega, Carlos Benavides Vega, Ileana Espinel Cedeño, and Sergio Román Armendáriz decided to compile their poems into this collective work. “Club 7” serves as a testament to the group’s shared experiences, literary explorations, and the diverse poetic styles and themes represented within their poetry.
In addition to “Club 7,” the group also published another notable collection titled “Triángulo” (Triangle) in 1960. This anthology features poems by David Ledesma Vázquez (“Los días sucios”), Ileana Espinel Cedeño (“Diríase que canto”), and Sergio Román Armendáriz (“Arte de amar”). “Triángulo” exemplified the group’s commitment to publishing together, showcasing their individual voices within a collective framework.
Club 7 embraced a multifaceted outlook, incorporating socialist, existentialist, and religious themes into their works. They often explored social and political issues, expressing their views through poetry that addressed imperialism, social injustice, and the human condition.
Their literary style and point of view resonated with the cultural and political context of their time. They confronted censorship and controversy, as seen in Ileana Espinel Cedeño’s anti-imperialist poem “Elegía por los mártires,” which caused protests and threats of censorship due to its critical stance towards the United States.
The legacy of Club 7
The impact of Club 7 extends far beyond their years of collaboration. While the majority of the members have passed away, their contributions to Ecuadorian literature continue to resonate. Through their individual achievements and collective endeavors, Club 7 left an enduring imprint on the literary landscape of Ecuador.
Carlos Benavides Vega (1931-1999), with his dedication to radio, history, and theater, left a lasting impact on these fields. He became a pioneer in historical theater, having penned several plays in the genre, including “La herida de Dios” (1978), winner of the Aurelio Espinosa Pólit Prize.
Gastón Hidalgo Ortega ((1929-1973) continued to write and publish his poems in various magazines, but he never released a collection of his poetry during his lifetime. However, after his passing, Ileana Espinel Cedeño took charge of compiling and editing his poetry, overseeing the posthumous publication of his poetry collection titled “Colección de poesía ecuatoriana: La rosa de papel, 25,” which was published by the Casa de la Cultura Ecuatoriana in 1990.
Ileana Espinel Cedeño (1934-2001), continued to explore poetry and writing, further developing her distinctive voice. As an editor, she was instrumental in getting the works of various poets published by the House of Ecuadorian Culture. The Guayaquil International Poetry Festival Ileana Espinel Cedeño, named in her honor, has established itself as one of the most important Festivals in Latin America.
David Ledesma Vázquez (1934-1961), died by suicide in 1961, he left behind several unpublished works. Ileana Espinel Cedeño oversaw the posthumous publication of his poetry collection “Cuaderno de Orfeo” [Orfeo’s Notebook] in 1962. Although his work went unnoticed for several years after his death, it eventually acquired a cult following.
Sergio Román Armendáriz stands as the sole surviving member of Club 7, carrying the torch and preserving the group’s legacy in Ecuadorian literature. As the only living representative of the esteemed collective, he continues to dedicate himself to writing and offers insightful reflections on the history and impact of Club 7.
Carlos Abadíe Silva’s fate remained unknown to the remaining members of Club 7. After departing for New York in 1953 to pursue a musical career, he was never seen or heard from again.
Miguel Donoso Pareja became one of Ecuador’s most notable writers, achieving the Eugenio Espejo Prize in 2006, Ecuador’s highest literary honor. He also directed the literary workshops of the House of Ecuadorian Culture for many years, and served as the president of the institution’s branch in the Guayas province.
- Club 7 (1954)
- Triángulo (1960)