David Ledesma Vásquez 

David Ledesma Vásquez (Guayaquil, December 17, 1934 – March 30, 1961) was an Ecuadorian poet and theater actor. Although his work went unnoticed for several years after his death, it eventually acquired a cult following. He belonged to Club 7, a group of Ecuadorian poets from the 1950s. He committed suicide by hanging in 1961. He left behind several unpublished works, including one ironically titled “La risa del ahorcado” [The Hanged Man’s Laugh]. Ileana Espinel Cedeño, a fellow Club 7 member, oversaw the posthumous publication of his poetry collection “Cuaderno de Orfeo” in 1962.

Background

David Ledesma Vásquez was born on December 17, 1934, into a wealthy family in Guayaquil, Guayas province. He finished his secondary education at Vicente Rocafuerte National School.

From a young age, Ledesma had a tumultuous relationship with his family, who did not accept his homosexuality or his penchant for letters, traits that contrasted with those of his older brother, who had died as a hero during the 1941 war. When Ledesma reached the age of 18, his father attempted to enlist him in the military but he was denied due to his flat feet and asthma. According to his theater colleague, playwright José Guerra Castillo, Ledesma’s father hospitalized him for six months in a Lima clinic where they tried to change his sexual orientation through conversion therapy.

Ledesma was married for less than a year to an actress named Mercedes Cajamarca, with whom he had a daughter and maintained a friendly relationship until his death.

Literary career

David Ledesma Vásquez’ literary career began in 1950, when his story “Soledad” [Solitude] was published in the newspaper La Nación. The following year, he received high praise for his poem “La muerte del saltamontes” [The Grasshopper’s Death] at the Floral Games of the Vida Porteña program.

During the 1950s, Ledesma was a member of the poetry group “Club 7,” a group of seven young poets who gained popularity in the local press. Ileana Espinel, Miguel Donoso Pareja, Carlos Benavides Vega, Gastón Hidalgo, Charles Abadíe Silva, and Sergio Román Armendáriz were also members of the group. Donoso and Abadíe left the group after learning of Ledesma and Benavides’ homosexuality.

In 1953 Ledesma published his first collection of poems, “Cristal,” which was followed by “Club 7” in 1954, which he co-wrote with four other members of Club 7: Ileana Espinel, Carlos Benavides Vega, Gastón Hidalgo, and Sergio Román Armendáriz. In 1958, his poetry collection “Gris” obtained an honorable mention from the Caracas newspaper Lírica Hispánica .

Death

On March 30, 1961, David Ledesma Vásquez was found hanged in his parents’ Centenario neighborhood home. In the facilities of Radio CRE, where he was working at the time, a suicide letter was discovered in which he apologized to his colleague from the radio program “Aqui Cuba” and asked him to look after his wife.

Works

  • Cristal (1953)
  • Club 7 (1954), (collaborative work)
  • Gris (1958)
  • Triángulo (1960), (collaborative work)
  • Cuaderno de Orfeo (1962)
  • David Ledesma Vázquez, obra poética completa (2007) – (his complete works)

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