1896, August 3 – BIRTH OF CELEDONIO FLORES

The fascist like overthrow on June 4, 1943 of the elected government did not augur well for poet Celedonio Flores…the dictatorship’s censors, in a misguided attempt to raise the moral level of Argentine society, began to prohibit precisely the kind of language he used to describe the tough underworld which he was familiar with…Celedonio Flores, of mixed african descent, was born in the neighborhood of Villa Crespo to a poor and sometimes violent family…he was restless in school and was often in trouble and so he quit to seek his fortune in the outer world…he worked at a number of odd jobs including having been a boxer…in the evenings, he led a wild, bohemian life among Buenos Aires’s clubs, cafes and houses of prostitution…it is in this dark underworld that he crossed paths with life’s tragic stories which would be the themes of his tangos…in 1920 he happened to send a simple poem entitled “Ultima Ora” to a newspaper which to his surprise was published and for which he was given five  pesos…that might have been the end of it had not Carlos Gardel happen to read the poem and created the tango “Margo” from it…

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Carlos Gardel would go on to record twenty-one of his tangos in the process making Celedonio a famous poet and financially secure…for a number of years he wrote exclusively for the legendary Rosita Quiroga who was the incarnation of the characters he spoke about in his lyrics…Rosita  recited her tangos as she strummed her guitar not averse to using the slang and vulgar language she heard on the streets of her neighborhood of La Boca; the same one where her neighbor and teacher Juan De Dios Filiberto lived in…Celedonio Flores wrote many successful tangos like “Viejo Smoking” which was a great hit for Carlos Gardel in 1930 and “Mano A Mano” which would be a great hit for Julio Sosa 30 years later…in an interview Celedonio Flores was to say about his work, “I search for an piece of life, I live it personally in my mind, and slowly and carefully I begin to craft it with words”…Celedonio would attain much success in life but he would die embittered at the relatively young age of 51…Robert Farris Thompson in his celebrated book “Tango, The Art History of Love” called Celedonio Flores, “the poet laureate of the people”

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