Yolanda Castaño: (Re)Ser(Vado)

A
A slow knife is the project for identity.
An indigo celebration is re-cognition.

How did I let all this happen to me?
My own dream went away from me with me
I cannot allow them to misinterpret me one more time
Why do you affect me? Why do you still affect me?
An absurd insurmountable dispossession.

But I would be fine, worries never end, as you know, because in the end I
would be fine, always fine, although I am still not understood
although I lose my health when I am young.
I also thought I could control it.
Why do you drive me to despair? Why do you still drive me to despair?

A well of sustained notes,
a mechanical nightingale is the evening
How did I have the courage to take on your strategy?

B
When I stop being a flower
I’m a nuisance.

But the hard thing was just to be, the
tirelessly ill-fated.

If I could contract some serious ailment
it would greatly favour my literary image.

As I have no work, I am off to Las Vegas.
In the USA I am more beautiful than anywhere else.

But I have been acid and pretentious,
I have smiled for my own purposes,
the busy, sexy capitalist;
I made up for my days of impotence.
To be
is what’s hard.
When I spoke they only looked at my lips.

If I take a break will that
make me irresponsible?
If I am vulnerable
will they walk all over me?
If things went worse for me
would you all love me more?

An extravagant knife is the project for identity,
a mechanical nightingale in the evening.
So much souvenir will be the death of Notre Dame.
Where were you when I needed you?

C
Hanayo understands me. I don’t know
if perhaps I would be better understood in Japan.
The weak fish the current will carry it to a safe place.
The strong fish will be alone in the mutliplying force.
The easy thing
is not being.

I would not have promised so much
for fear of making you scorn me,
I would not have been so self-destructive,
I would not have done without necessities,
I would not have denied my own business.
If I am pretty will I have
less chance of being alone?

D
I didn’t want to do more than draw an amulet
but when I spoke they only looked at my lips.

Ask the lilies, the screens, the terms on paper,
Ask the others who the devil it is that was me.
I ran the risk of losing myself- me, which is all I had-
shy little pale girl in a blue uniform.

Would success turn our house into a failure?

The privilege of misery is to have its own place.
Since I have no work I am off to Las Vegas.
The volume of all my figures falls upon the spores I tend towards.

I swear to you I would not have submitted so much
for fear of not being up to that level.
If I don’t want does that mean I don’t want?

The weak fish the current will take it to a safe place
The strong fish will be alone in the multiplying force.
Merciful is the prize. I want to be sick.
Where were you when I needed you?
This poem comes from a collection by Yolanda Castaño called Profundidade de Campo (Depth of Field) (Espiral Maior, 2007). What do you see in the cover image? The collection explores the project for identity. The photograph, also by Yolanda Castaño, is a brilliant depiction of what is going on in the poems themselves as she vacillates between weakness and strength, health and sickness, success and failure: same person different image.

It is a poem about being a poet, specifically about being a woman poet. She obsesses about being understood, about people watching her lips but not understanding what she is saying. She worries about submitting too much of her work and even about the merciful prize, reminding us that this collection one the XV Esiral Maior prize for poetry. Hanayo understands her, she says. If you want to understand what that might mean look at Hanayo’s website: http://www.hanayo.com.

Having spent some time reading blogs and internet effusions I can relate to the idea that a serious illness could represent a writer’s career break or the anxiety over taking a break, appearing weak, wanting to be loved. “Would success turn our house into a failure?” suggests that there are sacrifices to writing.

At the same time as I read these poems I am reading Teresa Moure who is educating me in a whole different way of reading. More of that later. For the moment I hope you enjoy this poem.
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About Jason Preater

Working on Projects
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