Poetry is the journal of the sea animal living on land, wanting to fly in the air. Poetry is a search for syllables to shoot at the barriers of the unknown and the unknowable. Poetry is a phantom script telling how rainbows are made and why they go away. Poetry is an echo, asking a shadow to dance - Carl Sandburg..........Poetry should be great and unobtrusive, a thing which enters into one's soul, and does not startle it or amaze it with itself, but with its subject - John Keats .........Poetry is the breath and finer spirit of all knowledge - William Wordsworth ..........Poets utter great and wise things which they do not themselves understand - Plato .........No man was ever yet a great poet, without being at the same time a profound philosopher. For poetry is the blossom and the fragrance of all human knowledge, human thoughts, human passions, emotions, language - Samuel Taylor Coleridge .........One demands two things of a poem. Firstly, it must be a well-made verbal object that does honor to the language in which it is written. Secondly, it must say something significant about a reality common to us all, but perceived from a unique perspective. What the poet says has never been said before, but, once he has said it, his readers recognize its validity for themselves - W. H. Auden ...........Poetry is just the evidence of life. If your life is burning well, poetry is just the ash - Leonard Cohen .........There is a pleasure in poetic pains which only poets know - William Cowper .........Genuine poetry can communicate before it is understood -T. S. Eliot ..........Poetry heals the wounds inflicted by reason - Novalis...........He who draws noble delights from sentiments of poetry is a true poet, though he has never written a line in all his life - George Sand .........A poem is never finished, only abandoned - Paul Valery ........A poet is a bird of unearthly excellence, who escapes from his celestial realm arrives in this world warbling. If we do not cherish him, he spreads his wings and flies back into his homeland - Kahlil Gibran.............Poetry should strike the reader as a wording of his own highest thoughts, and appear almost a remembrance - John Keats..........To be a poet is a condition, not a profession - Robert Frost........A poem is true if it hangs together. Information points to something else. A poem points to nothing but itself - E. M. Forster.........Publishing a volume of verse is like dropping a rose petal down the Grand Canyon and waiting for the echo - Don Marquis...........Poetry is not a turning loose of emotion, but an escape from emotion; it is not the expression of personality, but an escape from personality. But, of course, only those who have personality and emotions know what it means to want to escape from these things - T. S. Eliot ..........You can tear a poem apart to see what makes it tick. You're back with the mystery of having been moved by words. The best craftsmanship always leaves holes and gaps so that something that is not in the poem can creep, crawl, flash or thunder in - Dylan Thomas .........Poetry is boned with ideas, nerved and blooded with emotions, all held together by the delicate, tough skin of words - Paul Engle......... There is not a joy the world can give like that it takes away! Lord Byron

Yolanda Castaño - Spain

The English translation is done by the author

 

 

I Passed By Here So Many Times, and Never Saw You Before

 

We are making a detailed inventory,

like the herbarium of an unforeseeable constellation.

First are the lilies, adornment of splattered stars;

the dahlias and the chrysanthemums;

the poppies need to be included because those tiny, shy flowers also deserve it.

The fig tree's flower is subliminal.

The most bookish of all: the capitula of the infloresences.

The orchid is clearly a lascivious flower,

it too closely resembles–I shan't go there.

The hibiscus fills the afternoon with whims and proverbs.

Hydrangeas: tell me how happy I was here.

There are the iris, the lavender, what is called the tea rose.

And then there is the magnolia that, as its name indicates,

must once have been the emblem of some kind of Mongol sovereignty.

Callas, anemones, the rhododendron's hardened indication.

Then there are other prodigies findable in distant latitudes,

like the unspeakable chilamate flower,

that is felt but not seen, like

that deep love that rises like a bellow from the knees.

There are

water lilies, Chinese roses, dandelions.

We also have cosmos and sage and impatiens but those are already

more conceptual flowers.

The passion-flower is like the throne of an answer, the

canopy of a consideration.

There are flowers that forever bear the name of the first eye that saw them.

Lilacs, marigolds, carnations.

I cannot forget the mimosas, swarm of tiny warnings,

nor my most spoiled: the indecent scent of the bougainvilleas.

 

But, I already told you–I don't know, it's strange,

I've passed by here so many times and

no,

I never saw you

before.

 

 

[in Cuadernos de Villa Waldberta/Aufzeichnungen aus der Villa Waldberta, Instituto Cervantes of Munich and Munich City Council, GERMANY] (2012)

English translation by Lawrence Schimel

 

A  STORY OF TRANSFORMATION

 

First it was a disorder

a girl’s harmful abstinence we were poor I had nothing

except rickets poverty before I bitterness lacking a

parabola of complexes a syndrome a ghost

(Equally ill-fated to miss or lament it)

Shadowy reef which breaks my necklaces.

First of all it was an evasive gill which

wouldn’t make me happy touching me with its breath

I’m the plainest face in the school playground

insipid expression which sows nothing anywhere

have it or not give up get used to swallow it

crows covering clouds sentenced to eternal cold

a patient gale a private deprivation

(I was a convent girl they all end up

anorexic Lesbian spare

the rod spoil the elbows heads

cunts and consciences).

I closed my eyes and violently wished

once and for all to become what I was.

 

But beauty corrupts. Beauty corrupts.

Shadowy reef which wears out my necklaces.

Morning conquers and the throat contains a portent.

Silly little thing! you were obsessed with covering with crosses

instead of content.

It was a slow dizzy blossoming of flowers in winter

The rivers jumped back turned into waterfalls roses

butterflies and snails appeared in my hair

The smile of my breasts added fuel to airplanes

Beauty corrupts

Beauty corrupts

The tightness of my stomach escorted spring

conch shells overflowed in my miniature hands

my highest compliment pinched my ventricle

I no longer knew what to do with so much light in so much shade.

 

They said your weapon will be your own punishment

they threw my virtues in my face this

club does not admit girls with red painted lips

a dirty seaquake perverted usury which

can have nothing to do with my mask of lashes

mice went up to my room fouled the drawers of underwear

litres of scrap tar secret spying litres

of control litres of slanderers kilos of suspicions raised

with only the tense arch of my eyebrows you should be tied up

given a grey appearance your features erased with acid

to stop being me in order to become a writer?

they demonized my long thin neck the way

I have hair at the base of my nape this

club does not admit such well turned out girls

We distrust the summer

Beauty corrupts.

Think hard if this is all worth it.

 

 

[Depth of Field] (2007, bilingual ed. 2009)

English translation by Jonathan Dunne

 

 

HIGHWAY TO HEAVEN

 

I.

Scars of impossible curves remain upon the highway,

flickering lines that end up straight against the border.

 

What would my spike beauty look like

whilst being smashed and bloody against the windshield glass,

and what would the true condition of my breasts be

for they would never ever

fall

again?

 

 

II.

 

Capsule of just.

 

Between this      and nothing      a worthless movement.

A moment’s inattention, a foolish crack of chance and the

rosy weight of my

bones against the

ditch.

 

A butterfly of cold crosses the way through,

my eyes get caught by its leap and

I am lucky.

 

One two, one two, one

two.

 

 

 

III.

 

If at this very moment in time

my lane were crossed by the least misfortune

and my young luck just blew up at once,

nobody would see anything

shady or suspicious

in the glittering beauty

of my corpse upon the edge.

 

 

IV.

 

At night the highway resembles a videogame.

The dullest blackness does not confuse me.

 

Like an intermittence

my youth, a cocaine line that sometimes

bends.

 

Behind my orbit the wheels get excited.

 

And I speed up as fast

as life is leaving this verse.

 

 

[Depth of Field] (2007, bilingual ed. 2009)

English translation by Jonathan Dunne

Chinese translation by Ming Di

French translation by Frederic Bourgeois

 

 

*                 *                 *

 

 

BREAD OF CELEBRATION  (IT’S AN UNFAIR WORLD)

 

 

The world is a hotel with no reception desk.

The gift of eloquence is not a common good.

 

Loaves and fishes were not distributed that way.

Meat to the starboard, fishbones to the port.

 

You're going to lose your head and it's raining hats on you,

the rich will have money the poor will have children.

 

I know of a bread that I would break into chunks

miniscule chunks that would make enough leftovers,

if a crumb could possibly fill a mouth,

if it could satisfy or perhaps even untie a tongue.

 

Like lifeboats on the glory of the Titanic,

groves of combs for those who are

bald.

 

Urbi et orbi of rhetoric: neither here nor expected.

Beards are knitted for those lacking a jaw.

 

Some mouths were granted three seconds of memory.

And God will give that bread

to someone with fewer teeth.

 

 

 

[The Second Tongue] (2014)

English translation by Lawrence Schimel

 

 

*                 *                 *

 

PRETENDING THAT THE PAIN SHE FEELS IS PAIN    
    
My looks suggest I like

things that I do not.   

 
Everyone speaks through

closed lips.   

 

As does this.    
The walls of a grotto where, ten thousand years ago,    
someone sullies the natural essence of the stone.    
Coins, alternating current,    
a girl born with beauty in her genes,    
pock-marked by hang-ups.    
Like an orgasm in Hedy Lamarr, like Nikola Tesla’s eyes.    
A country where one needn’t be,    
but can merely    
appear to.    
A peeling away of gloves,

a touch of spice, the most prestigious    
of all dubbing schools.   

 

Capital is the nightmare    
of being caught in our symbolic capacity.

The most flattering of all:  mortuary makeup.

Years of work turned into equestrian granite.

An industry of poverty, wolfram in kitchen gardens.

Like an ardent body, aware but

feigning innocence.    
Cheap false eyelashes, an image    
identical to itself.     
    
Like political poetry confused    
with a selfie in the bathroom mirror.    
The metonymy of evil.

The normative wrenched.

A set stage, a menu, an emergency escape from the fires of discourse.    
Something whose roots stretch out to the air and longs

to return to the soil, once time

has elapsed since it burst into light--

like the eyes in potatoes.     
    
The poem’s gaze is like this too:

worker ants in single file,

flattened forever    
in timeless lines,  

 

shreds of gestures

that look like

something else.  

 

[In digital periodical magazines]

Translation by Carys Evans-Corrales

 

 *                 *                 *

 

APPLES FROM TOLSTOY’S GARDEN

 

 

I,

who traced by car the banks of the Neretva,

who exhausted on bicycle the steaming streets of Cophehnague.

I who measured with my own arms the holes of Sarajevo,

who crossed, in the driver's seat, the border of Slovenia

and overflew in a biplane the Ria of Betanzos.

I who set off in a ferry which docked on the coasts of Ireland,

and at the island of Ometepe in Lake Cocibolca;

I who will never forget that shop in Budapest,

nor the fields of cotton in the province of Tesalia,

nor a night when I was 17 in a hotel in Nice.

My memory wets its feet at Jurmala beach in Latvia

and on 6th Avenue feels at home.

I,

who could have died once taking in a taxi in Lima,

who crossed the yellow of the brilliant fields of Pakruojis

and crossed that same street as Margaret Mitchell in Atlanta.

My steps walked the pink sands of Elafonisi,

they crossed a corner in Brooklyn, the Charles Bridge, Lavalle street.

I who traversed desert to go to Essaouira,

who slid on a zip wire from the heights of Mombacho,

who won't forget the night I slept on the street itself in Amsterdam,

nor the Monastery of Ostrog, nor the stones of Meteora.

I who said a name aloud in the middle of a plaza in Gante,

who once cut through the Bosphorus dressed in promises,

who was never the same after that afternoon in Auschwitz.

I,

who drove east until near Podgorica,

who covered in a snowmobile the Vatnajókull glacier,

I who never felt as alone as in the rue de Sant Denis,

who will never taste grapes like the grapes of Corinto.

I, who one day plucked

                             apples from Tolstoy's garden,

I want to go back home:

the refuge

that I love most

of A Coruña

 

precisely in you.

 

[in A Coruña in light of the letters] (2008)

English translation by Lawrence Schimel

 

 *                 *                 *

 

Yolanda Castaño (Santiago de Compostela, Spain, 1977).

 

BA in Spanish Language and Literature and with Media Studies, apart from being a poet, editor and an very active culture manager, Yolanda Castaño has been a columnist and has worked in Galician TV during many years (Galician Audiovisual Academy Award as ‘Best TV Communicator 2005’). She has published 6 poetry books in Galician and Spanish (“Depth of Field”and “The second tongue” are her last titles), several chapbooks and a pair of compilations. She has won poetry awards amongst which the National Critics Award, the Espiral Maior Poetry Award, the Fundación Novacaixagalicia, the Ojo Crítico (best poetry book by a young author in Spain) and the Author of the Year Galician Booksellers’ Award stand out. She is a relevant cultural activist, regularly organizing monthly poetry reading series, festivals, literary and translation workshops, all of them hosting local to international poets (Galician Critics’ Award Best Cultural Manifestation 2014). She was the General Secretary of the Galician Language Writers Association and she has made her contribution to many written media, books, anthologies, conferences and many readings or multimedia poetry performances inside and outside Galicia, including many international poetry festivals and meetings, mostly around all Europe and America but also in Tunisia, China and Japan. She has coordinated collective books, art and poetry exhibitions, she has published works as an editor, as well as five poetry books for children and four of translations (from contemporary authors like Nikola Madzirov or Marko Pogačar, among others, into Spanish and Galician). She has been involved in many different experiences of blending poetry with music, performance, dance, architecture, visual and audiovisual arts, and even cookery, being awarded for that too. Some of her poems have been published translated into twenty languages. She held three international fellowships as a writer-in-residence, at the IWTCR in Rhodes (Greece) and in Villa Waldberta (Munich - Germany) in 2011, and at the HIP-Beijing (China) in 2014.

 

 

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