Yolanda Castaño: “Winning the National Poetry Prize is the second most difficult thing in my life”

Yolanda Castaño: “Winning the National Poetry Prize is the second most difficult thing in my life”

2023-09-28 08:54:01

The Visor publishing house published this year in a bilingual Galician-Spanish edition the poems from the book “Materia” by the poet Yolanda Castaño. On the cover she was noted as “one of the most international voices in current Galician poetry.” Almost all of her work has been translated into Spanish, even for the Latin American market. Many of the most important poetry awards have gone to her creation. But this ambassador of the world of Galician literature was missing something. Yesterday I woke up in Chiapas, Mexico, with the good news: I had won the National Poetry Prize awarded by the Ministry of Culture.

In the information provided by this department they indicated that the jury highlighted “Materia” for its “powerful poetic proposal”, avant-garde, evocative and sensory force as well as “metaphorical poetry that dialogues with personal and collective memory.” , direct, radical and feminist”.

It was six in the morning in Chiapas; At 2:45 p.m. here, chen the author from A Coruña spoke on the phone thanking congratulations and told this newspaper: “Winning the National Poetry Prize is the second most difficult thing in my life. The first, devoting myself to poetry.”

“Materia” was first published in Galician in June 2022 with Xerais. She soon attracted attention for her “different approach” to motherhood “from a more questioning point of view and from a critical perspective,” the poet herself pointed out months ago to Faro de Vigo, from Prensa Ibérica.

Castaño certified her renunciation of motherhood in verses such as: A people must multiply/I/would divide or in the tribute to Idea Vilariño “I will not reach” addressed to the daughter or son who will not have and wherever I am I will not see you do/ what you love so much/ I will not find your children/ bathed in the sun/ in the month of August./ You will not hold my neck./ You will not turn off my light.

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Yesterday afternoon, the Galician writer explained that “I just wanted to make visible an option that all the women, if they are truly free, and it is the option of not being a mother. Authentic freedom is one in which any of the options is equally legitimate, visible and with the same social prestige. “We shouldn’t applaud just one of the options.”

However, he clarified that he does not defend that “one of the options is better than the other; not even that one receives support in a certain space and not in another.

To question motherhood, Yolanda Castaño unravels the poems by pulling a metaphorical thread that reviews the three states of matter as if they were chapters with their own names. At the beginning of her book of poems with “An Underground River” (liquid) she remembered her grandparents; to move on to the solid with “Iceberg” – where she talks about her parents and her brother, the closest family nucleus – and to end with the gas, Yolanda’s future, in “Cloud or the weight of the ungravid”.

There, in poems like “Suspendida”, he writes: Daughter, my daughter: I cannot carry you on my lap./ Stay where you are, stay calm./ Descending the steps of the verses of this poem/ barely in the voice of this verse, / I will still speak dead to an unborn you.

Asked about the avant-garde in her creation, she responded that “you always have to try to go one step further, how to push yourself to the limit and be demanding of yourself as a creator. “We must try to be the best poet possible and not repeat formulas that have already been done, including those that have worked for us in the past, because that kills us as creators.”

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Yolanda Castaño explained that she was in Chiapas, in San Cristóbal de las Casas, on the occasion of a poetry festival there in which she is the only representative of the Spanish State along with the Asturian Miguel Rodríguez Monteavaro. “I’m far from my family but they were the first to call and they were very excited. In some way, although it is comical, it is a reward for the family. Telling families through literature has always been done and this is a way to remember a family story. We all have family ties to the past and the future. What I wanted was to unite that line of my ancestors to those family projections of the future,” she reflected.

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