Noemí Trujillo. Poet.
I meet with the writer Noemí Trujillo to talk about her new book “Un mundo” ( A world) published by Rubric and which is going to market this March. It is a collection of thirty-five poems written and published during the last twelve years. This collection of poems is a diachronic journey through her work, published between 2008 and 2020, and they also become a palpable and critical display of the most relevant events in it.
Noemí Trujillo was born in Barcelona (1976), is a poet, writer, editor and cultural manager. She studies Humanities at Carlos III University, and during our conversation, we not only talk about poetry but also give us some literary references that have influenced her literature.
The selection of the poems published in “Un mundo” has been made by Noemí Trujillo herself, thus establishing a very personal journey between her first verses and her latest poetic creations. Noemí allows the reader to verify, in this journey that constitutes “A World”, that literary maturity that the author has consolidated as a writer.
I discover, after reading in the absolute scoop “Un mundo”, a poet with extensive experience, who reflects on everyday situations, but also on something as universal as love, well mixed with loneliness or pain, and always from that feminine gaze of the poet.
CR : Noemi, we are reading you compile poems from the last twelve years, what has inspired you to write during all this time?
NT : I believe that all of us have a poetic DNA, as we have a historical DNA; I have always been a very sensitive person and from a very young age I overturn those feelings in the writing of poems. During the last twelve years, I have written verses to understand myself, to try to better understand the world around me; I have tried to reflect some beauty; feelings of friendship, love for my daughters, family obligations, everything I have been learning, reading and interpreting have crept into my poems, but I would be a hypocrite if I did not confess that most of my poetry is inspired by the love I feel towards my husband. Because it is so, that has been the source of almost all my poems, until now.
CR: You tell us about love, motherhood, loneliness, heartbreak, among others, but they are always universal themes. What questions do you ask yourself before starting to write each verse? What questions are you trying to answer in your verses?
NT : I don’t ask myself any questions when writing a poem. The poems that I have written have always been born from an impulse: what I feel when looking at a painting hanging on the wall of my house when I suddenly find myself with an old photograph when I see a movie with my daughters when I reread a book. Nor do I try to answer anything when I write. However, although I am not asking questions or in a position to offer answers, I do understand the creative process of writing a poem as an epistemological exercise from which I always try to learn something.
CR: In your first poem, you refer to your poetic career with these verses: “Queen Maria Luisa on horseback / came to see me and said to me: /” All the poems you have written/have written from a role of wife, mother or daughter “/ And I was right, Queen Maria Luisa” by continuing to read the poem I think I discover the reason for the title of this book of poems, but I prefer not to dare explain it, and that you are the one who explains to me … Why have you titled “A World ”this collection of poems?
NT : The poetry book is titled like this for several reasons. One of them is because it refers to my poetic world, my most personal space; another, more artistic, is a reference to a painting by Holy Angels entitled “One World.” It is a large oil painting, exhibited at the Reina Sofía, it reflects a surprising world that has lost its original condition and that is populated by very strange female characters. It was, in turn, some verses by Juan Ramón Jiménez that inspired Ángeles Santos to paint the painting, and that made me think of the close relationship of poetry with other arts, such as painting.
CR : At some point in Poem V you tell us “In poetry, nothing is normal”. What do you think is different about poetry that “nothing is normal”?
NT : For me, poetry is a space of absolute freedom, a genre capable of breaking with its conventions over and over and reinventing itself; Octavio Paz defined it as an eroticization of language; Umberto Eco as a mountain excursion; Federico García Lorca as the mystery created by the union of two words. For centuries the theatre was written in verse. Perhaps one of the definitions of poetry that I like the most, and that helps me answer your question, is that of Shelley: “Poetry is a memory of the best and happiest moments of the best and happiest wits.”
CR: I was especially struck by this metaphor from poem IX: “I have an antelope around my neck, its name like mine is imprecise” Do you think poetry is a weapon that we should all use to annihilate that “antelope around my neck”?
NT : That poem is from the book “Lejos de Valparaíso”, published in 2009. My way of writing poems, then, was very different from today. I remember that phrase came to me suddenly, without thinking, really when I wrote it I did not think of anything concrete for that antelope. Now I write more rationally, thinking of all the correspondences and images of the poem. I don’t know if poetry is a weapon loaded with the future, as Celaya wrote, or what it is for; I use it to learn from my mistakes and to empty my mind of emotions: good, bad, ambiguous, static, toxic. The poem helps me extract everything, purify it, change it. In that metamorphosis, there is room for annihilation, too, but I like more to think of permanent transformation.
CR: In poem X I like the verses: “You have left me in the dark for a long time” Do you wait for inspiration to find you or do you go looking for it with poems and more poems until you find “that light”?
NT : It was Picasso who wrote: “Inspiration exists, but it has to find you working.” I do the two things that you ask in the question. Sometimes inspiration finds you. Your husband arrives with a small vase as a gift for Mother’s Day and one day later, looking at it on the kitchen table, you remember the gesture of love and affection of the gift and write a poem, without thinking or planning it. It comes in response to a beautiful gesture. Other times, you haven’t been writing for a while and you get a strange panic: the fear that your supposed talent will disappear. And you force yourself to write. And you write something that you think is not wrong. Or when you try to finish something to present a prize, you are also looking for a composition, a thematic unit, a light, a common thread that allows you to order the loose poems in a book. My poetic creation, over the years, has ended up being a balance between those two forces.
CR: In the poem XXI, you write something as poetic and beautiful as “When I said I never meant always, when I wrote vertigo it was calm” Is poetry a language with confusing language?
NT : It can be, although I don’t like it to be. Rather, these verses reflect the contradictions of the human soul. They are not intended to create confusion, but to reflect our disagreements. A playwright that I like is Bertolt Brecht and many of the characters created by Brecht (Galileo, Mother Courage) are very contradictory. Denying our inconsistencies is absurd, we all have them. I like to face them poetically.
CR: In the poem XXIX, we read: “We are no longer just women, we have become guerrillas” Do you consider literature written by women as a weapon of “guerrillas”? If it were not so, do you think that we should give that “guerilla” and vindictive nuance to the literature written by women?
NT : I wrote that poem for an exhibition that took place in 2011 at the Vilapoética festival, in Viladecans, and which was titled “Guerrilleras de la Vida”; My poems were accompanied by photographs of Petra Jiménez. That festival and that exhibition were almost an act of rebellion. What she intended, in her day, was to give visibility to contemporary poetry, to find a space that still does not exist. I think that the women of the 21st century are very guerilla, feminist, vindictive, rebellious and it is good that this is so, that we reread the classics, the philosophers, the tradition with new eyes; that we point out what we don’t like, that we look for nuances, that we write, that we edit, that we win prizes, that now it is Pandora (and not Prometheus) who steals fire from the gods.
CR: In the poem Poem XXXIII we read “Fast heart, is it you or is it me?” Noemi, how does your love for yourself influence your poems?
NT : In 2018 I had an excellent professor of literary theory, David Conte Imbert, who taught me how important deictics are in the poem and my way of writing poetry changed completely; I stopped directing my poetry at a hypothetical “you,” at that distant second person, and began to think about the “me.” That meant asking myself what is happening to me, why do I suffer, master, with what things do I dream, become the subject and protagonist of the poem. It may seem more self-centred, but it became a way of searching and investigating myself and the construction of my identity.
CR: I read your bibliography the amount of written and published books you have. Have you always been a person with a powerful imagination?
NT : As a child, I liked sleeping a lot because I had very long dreams that never ended … I don’t think that imagination is the most important tool for writing, in my case, it was more due to a very sensitive character.
CR: Concerning the previous question, what marked you the most from your first published book and what has marked you most in this collection of poems “Un Mundo” as the last book published? How has been the evolution from one book to another as a writer?
NT : My first collection of poems was published in 2008 and was titled “La Magdalena”. I wrote it as a gift from Reyes for my husband. That book symbolized the happiness of the beginning, the most beautiful thing about falling in love when it is full of common projects. Throughout these twelve years, I have written and published twelve poetry books. “Far from Valparaíso” spoke of the frustrated desire to be a mother, to give birth to an unborn child. “The girl with the sad eyes” has depression as its central theme: sometimes it catches us and it is difficult to get out. I did it thanks to poetry. “Brooklyn Bridge” is one of the poems that I love the most, I wrote it during my trip to New York in 2011, in which I tried to visit some places that I knew Lorca had visited; the poetry book is an internal journey. “The little princess on asteroid B612” talks about my departure from Barcelona, how strange my city is to me since the whole issue of “procés” began: I no longer felt comfortable there, I closed my house and came to live in Madrid. It was an important change, in my life and my poetry. New spaces, new places, new themes: nostalgia, feeling away from home, longing for the sea, the weight of memories, lost happiness, how some places that we have loved change, how they transform to even expel you. From “A giant sitting in the navel of the world” there is a greater presence of art in my poems. My art classes greatly influenced my career and excellent teachers such as Gloria Camarero or Francisco Daniel Hernández Mateo, who instilled in me a great love and respect for works of art and which has remained, in some way, reflected in my poems since I they gave the class. “My life with you” was a very personal booklet, accompanied by photographs that my husband took throughout our trips around the world; His photographs and my poems are embraced as a rhizome to what is real, to our life in common, to what we have lived: it was not always perfect, but it was authentic. “Saying I love you” is a very special collection of poems for me, written together with Iván Baeza, one of the best contemporary poets and a great writer; In the presence of one of his novels he said: “Why is it so difficult for us to say” I love you “to the people we love the most?” and from there we both decided to gather our love poems, to say that “I love you” publicly to the people who matter most to us, without fear or shame of any kind. Iván is a great poet and a wonderful friend, so much so that he has ended up becoming a literary subject and, from time to time, his name and that of my dear friend Isabel Dionis sneaks into my poems.
One day, I decided to read all my poems at once and I had a horrible feeling: I didn’t like them and, if I could, I wouldn’t publish any now. But they were written and published, signed with my name. At the last dinner of the Nadal Prize, I was seated next to the Catalan poet Vicenç Llorca, I explained how I felt: I did not like what I had written and I did not see myself able to put all my work together in an anthology. He told me that it was a normal feeling, that poetry is often the daughter of a context, of a certain moment, and that it was less demanding, that instead of wanting to publish everything in a complete anthology, he made a selection of the poems that I liked them more, written over the last twelve years, and that I tried to publish it. I listened to him and that is how “Un mundo” was born, this selection of poems that try to dialogue with each other, despite the passage of time.
CR : Which authors do you consider to have influenced your literature the most positively?
NT : I am not original. I am a poet because when I read Federico García Lorca I was captivated by his voice: it was a voice that was still alive within me, that resonated. Lorca has been a very important influence in the construction of my first poems: it was the mirror in which to look at myself. Today my references are the classics, the theatre, the cinema, I have expanded the field…. I am a great admirer of classical tragedy for its sublimity, as my theatre teacher, Eduardo Pérez-Rasilla Bravo used to say, in classical tragedy when a bathroom appears it is to kill Agamemnon. I am especially interested in the complexity of its female characters, the tragedies of Euripides.
CR: About the previous question, would you recommend an author who has specially marked you for the readers of The Citizen? Explain to us why.
NT : I’m a big fan of Ibsen’s Nora in “Dollhouse”, especially at the end: when she becomes self-aware.
«I am a poet because when I read Federico García Lorca I was captivated by his voice: it was a voice that was still alive within me, that resonated»
CR: For The Citizen Reading Junkies How do you select your reading? Does the content, theme or author of the work appeal to you more?
NT: For five years my reading has been very marked by the Humanities degree program at the Carlos III University. One of the subjects that I have enjoyed the most has been “Theater History”; I had Eduardo Pérez-Rasilla Bravo as a teacher, as I said, and he made us read a lot: Aeschylus’ “Orestíada”; “Oedipus Rex, Antigone and Oedipus at Settler”, by Sophocles; “Medea”, “Hipolito”, “Electra”, by Euripides; The Plautus and Menander comedies; Shakespeare’s “A Midsummer Night’s Dream”; “Life is a Dream” by Calderón; Woyzech by Büchner; Dollhouse by Ibsen; “Miss Julia” by Strindberg; Chekhov’s “Uncle Vania”; Brecht’s works; Beckett’s theatre… My readings are usually selected by my teachers; In the Humanities degree, you read a lot, about forty books per semester, they are usually very important references of each discipline of study and it usually takes me so long to be up to date with the academic program that I have time for little more, but I enjoy a lot and I am happy to learn from those my grade readings.
CR :Noemi, you have just published this compilation of poems. What are your next literary projects? Can you tell us something about them?
In poetry, I am interested in motherhood as a literary theme and I am working on a collection of poems whose central theme is motherhood, facing its ideal; I’ve titled it “Being a mother hurts a little.” Besides, in the last two years, I have worked for film and television production companies and I am writing several series scripts, in collaboration with other people, which I hope will see the light of day soon. I am also moving forward with the writing of the second instalment of the series by Inspector Manuela Mauri, written four hands with my husband, Lorenzo Silva. So I have many projects in hand, in addition to advancing my Humanities career; Perhaps my most concrete plan is to be able to graduate in a year and a half in my degree and specialize in Spanish Language and Literature.
In addition to poetry, novels and short stories, Noemí writes children’s and youth literature as well, so, being such a creative writer, we hope that soon she will delight us with more literary publications. It is always a pleasure to read you again, Naomi, so thank you very much for the interview, and above all thank you for trusting me and The Citizen, and allowing us to read your new poetry collection “Un Mundo” (published in Rubric), we wish you make it a literary success.
NT : Many thanks!
* Interview by Cristina Redondo published in #InLiterature on the culture, art and trends magazine The Citizen on 03/04/2020