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Virtual Interview with Yolanda Castaño

El 12 de January de 2012 en por | Sin comentarios

Yolanda Castaño

Versión en español
/ English version

Virtual interview with Yolanda Castaño, Instituto Cervantes Dublin Library, 8th December 2011.

David Carrión

Good afternoon, Yolanda. We always ask this question to our interviewees: which book made you become a reader and why? Which book or author made you become a writer? We know you mentioned Gloria Fuertes in an interview.

Yolanda Castaño

It seems you know a lot about me! You just hit the nail on the head: when I was a child, Gloria Fuertes’ poem books (Pío-Pío Lope, el pollito miope among many others) came my way and I was astonished by the way she writes without reaching the edges of the paper. Since then, I’ve always tried to imitate her creative way of expression.


Your three first poem books, Elevar as pálpebras (1995), Delicia (1998) and Vivimos no ciclo das Erofanías (1998) are compiled in Erofanía, reissued in 2009. Were you tempted to correct the texts? In which way has your poetry changed since then?

Yolanda Castaño

I couldn’t not correct the texts… but there was no point neither to rewrite them: although at present I barely identify myself with the poems I wrote at the age of 17, 18 and 19, I don’t regret writing them. I feel them far away but they also inspire me tenderness.

I think every passed day nourishes our present, the person we were in the past builds who we are today. In spite of that, the time goes on and we forget our old successes and failures to make way to new ones. It’s necessary to keep on searching, even though sometimes we manage to find.


Body, love, eroticism… Which other topics would you highlight from Erofanía?

Yolanda Castaño

Actually those three topics represented a very fertile land to give rise to reflections on other subjects: the way we are in love sometimes reveals the way we behave with others or even the way we face life. It was also a good material for literary exercises in order to accomplish all the objectives related to style that I aimed at that time. The meta-poetry (the reflection about the sense of literature) was also a main topic in my first works.


O libro da egoísta [The book of the selfish] was released in 2003 and then translated by yourself and published in a bilingual edition [Galician and Spanish] in 2006. It was awarded the Premio Nacional de la Crítica [Spanish National Literary Criticism Prize] in 2007. Why that title? Is it a self-criticism?

Yolanda Castaño

It is an irony and also a provocation. On one hand, poetry is the most selfish literary genre: either directly or indirectly, the poetic ego necessarily ends up talking from itself. On the other hand, this book is the result of one of those periods that pedantic people call “personal crisis”. It’s one of those moments in which we –absurdly-  feel that we can just rely on ourselves.

The fact of getting alone with myself in front of the mirror made me aware of the best and the worst features of myself. The book Libro de la Egoísta reflects on the identity; however, through my own identity it can reflect on yours or others’ identities.


Libro de la egoísta is a book about one’s identity, which you question with “self-criticism, sharpness and despair”. How does Yolanda get along with that “emigrant of herself”? Will that voluntary emigration become a forced exile? Who runs away from who and who stays?

Yolanda Castaño

Whew! I hope I answered all these complicated questions in the book, even though poetry usually brings up new questions when trying to answer questions.

But you’re right: the book sets out a continuous dialogue among the several egos we all have: the one we intimately feel, the one others perceive, the one others bring back to us. There is always a trial of strength between my two egos, the one who agrees and the one who questions, between features of ourselves that want to escape and those that want to stay. And everything is like this!


From your image and your videos we may assume that you’re (or should be) pleased to meet yourself. To what extent is it a sham, a provocation, a show?

Yolanda Castaño

There is a little bit of the three plus other ingredients: I aim to destroy the assumed (also aesthetics) pattern for poets, especially females. Still today there exists a very bigoted, outdated and hackneyed archetype of what a poet “should” and “shouldn’t” do or look like.

We, the poets, males or females, should have the look we freely decide. Any behavior that is considered natural in an actor or a singer should also be accepted in a poet. However, the fact of taking care of our external look and expressing ourselves through it does not mean that we pay less attention to other questions and it shouldn’t distract from what really matters, which is our work.


Let’s talk about other topics: the passage of time, memories… Maybe you don’t care much about these yet. Maybe these are topics for grey hair poets… (with all my respects for them)

Yolanda Castaño

The passage of time is another of the main topics of my entire work but, in fact, is rather related to the “carpe diem” or the eager to live, to learn, to experience.

It’s true that I haven’t touched on yet certain topics such as the far away memories (however we necessarily use the recent memories to make “emotional memories”) or death, but I eventually will. My poetic moment is always linked to what I am experiencing in life, that’s why I can only write about what is really affecting me.

Lately I have a more social focus.


In Profundidad de campo (2007, Spanish version in 2009) you pursue your troubled relation with your own image and identity. However, you add other moral topics, the free will… Are we free to decide who we are?

Yolanda Castaño

I wish we were! We are not free to decide who we are because we are not free to access all the possible options. And we have even less freedom to let others decide who and how we are.


What is it video poetry?

Yolanda Castaño

It is a merge of two creative languages which can generate very expressive dialogues: poetry and audiovisual.

The same way a novel can be converted into a movie, a poem can be converted into a short audiovisual in which the transmission of emotions, the aesthetics or the environment of sensations are more important than the narration.

That is how we create a sort of “video clip” in which, instead of a song, there is a poem combined with visual metaphors and other resources in interaction with it.


You have tried to merge poetry with other languages: music, plastic arts, audiovisual, food… What else are you going to try?

Yolanda Castaño

Many other things I hope!

I am eager to spread out the poetry, to link it to real life, to approach it to today society, and to relate it to as many aspects of life as possible. For this reason I always look forward for new opportunities to learn, to work with other artists who will help me know more about my job, to take more expressive advantage of my poems, to reach out to new publics, to confront ideas, to try new areas and to have new experiences.

I wish three is still much to explore!


Today, you and Andrea are going to talk about the book Cociñando ao pé da letra. Is it possible to say “I love you”, “I hate you”, “I need you” with food?

Yolanda Castaño

I don’t know how accurate a message expressed by food is, but I’m sure that a dish can be tremendously expressive and it can even use resources that rational language can’t.

It is not always possible to express our ideas through the poor spoken language, so limited and structured. In those cases, an image, a poem, a delicious dish can make meanings fly out.

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