Yolanda Castaño

Spain

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.


Yolanda Castaño was born in Santiago de Compostela, Spain in 1977, and holds a BA in Spanish Language and Literature and with Media Studies. Apart from having an 18 year career as a poet and a culture manager, Yolanda has been a columnist and has worked in Galician TV for many years (Galician Audiovisual Academy Award as ‘Best TV Communicator 2005’). She has published 5 poetry books in Galician and Spanish, and a pair of compilations. She has won several poetry awards, amongst which, the National Critics Award, the Espiral Maior Poetry Award and the Ojo Crítico (best poetry book by a young author in Spain) stand out. She is a cultural activist, regularly organising poetry readings, festivals and literary workshops. 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 – mostly around Europe and America but also in China, Tunisia and Japan. She has coordinated collective books, art and poetry exhibitions and has published three poetry books for children and one of translations. She has been involved in many different experiences of blending poetry with music, performance, dance, architecture, visual and audiovisual arts, and even cookery. Some of her poems have been translated into more than fifteen languages. In 2011 she held two international fellowships as a writer-in-residence, in Rhodes (Greece) and Munich (Germany).

 

Literary critic Martín López-Vega has described Yolanda Castaño and her poetry as part of the most vibrant literary system in the Iberian peninsula at present, the Galician one. While the Galician literary system is seen as peripheral, Castaño’s position, home and abroad, is one of centrality. She makes the best of these two points of articulation and destroys the two concepts altogether. On the one hand, because, as López Vega once again claims, Galician poetry has understood like no other that “only the periphery can become the true place of the avant-garde, and that the only way to renew itself is to assume the canon of modernity without trying to run behind it, but to see it eye to eye.”

 

The relevance and presence of women poets in the Galician literary system is paramount, but it has, however, not obscured the singularity of each of the poets. It is in this way that Castaño emerges as a poet well versed in different literary traditions in Europe and abroad. She is also characterised by her capacity to merge and navigate the thin line between a contemporary poem and performative experiences, using autobiographical elements to connect her work with the world, with identity in general – to understand how we see and how we are seen. Her work Profundidade de campo is a sort of real-life autopsy, a play-on-words with the different aspects of the self.

 

Literary critic Antonio Ortega highlights Castaño’s capacity to «establish and reinvent identity understood as a flow of plastic images traversed by contradictions». The quality of her writing is beyond doubt, and, according to Túa Blesa, Castaño has managed to recentre debates around writing and the individual in a modern and effective language. Her visual language and her unique aesthetic universe have also been mentioned by Luís Bagué Quílez. Diego Vadillo has quickly linked her poetry to postmodern irony and cunningness that opens up unexpected perspectives. This critic further mentions Castaño’s poetry as a dialogue with her times, with the load of the past, in a sublimation of the truculent, with an exquisite use of parody and a lucid and elegant manipulation of themes and style. Castaño manages to sublimate the trivial with highly suggestive might.

 

Poet and critic Elena Medel has summarised her latest volume, “A segunda lingua” as follows: “The body is the body and the language is the language: precisely there where they crash, with words that scratch and skin that does not touch, the book happens. Yolanda Castaño is a free poet who has experimented with all languages already, who appeals to all the senses -written, heard, seen and even known-, and concludes that maybe what is missing is a verb to name what is needed, or quite the opposite, the world is suffocated by so many different voices. La segunda lengua reflects upon writing and its tension with life, upon writing as a way of life and as writing as a parallel life – it proposes a beautiful and harsh promenade around the doubts and few certainties that the following questions ask: Language – what for? The body – what for? The space between them – which? Occupying it – why not.”