AS: In both of the other interviews (see Interview with six Catalan poets) it suddenly struck me that there were no women present. We discussed the
apparent lack of women in Catalan poetry, but didnt come to any conclusions.
Basically, the question I would like to ask you is where are the women?
DM: Well, there are women. Its just that poetry is very closed to
them, so Ive noticed.
AS: Maybe, as Eduard Escoffet says, in five years the most
famous Catalan poets will be women. He seems to think that the lack of women is only a
question of circumstances.
DM: It just depends on the generation. Women who are now between twenty and thirty are
regarded as equal by men of their age, but the men of my generation - ten years older or
ten years younger - continue with this machismo, although I dont think they
do it intentionally. For example, when the magazine Cave Canis died, it did so
practically without any women having collaborated, although were still going strong,
right? I talked to the man responsible for this at Cave Canis - about the lack of
women - and he told me that he was glad I offered this reflection, but I dont know.
. . in the closed vanguard circles it is a masculine domain. In the poetry of
"experience," maybe women fit in more easily; however in what we would call
experimental poetry, women have not been considered poetically.
AS: Here in Catalunya or in general?
DM: I went to a women writers conference in the Canary Islands. There were women
complaining there also, but, for example, I dont know about the female poetry
situation in France, Im not sure whether they have equal status or not, but the
complaints were there. I think that in literature, "love" has always been a
theme that portrays man as being "in love" with a woman. Or a woman is seen
crying because the man abandoned her. That is, poetically speaking, it has been very
stereotypical. It is difficult to enter this area, because there are other non-literary
schemas involved. That is, when I myself want to talk about love, I am always afraid of
being an imbecile. Yes, because I can only stay within the tearful terrain, which is what
women have systematically done: cry.
AS: And if you find yourself in some other terrain?
DM: I'm in uncertain territory, because it is like their language, their
behavior. . . I dont know if Im explaining this well.
AS: This response makes me wonder, should we be like men,
should we use their established language, etc.?
DM: Well, trying to be like a man is stupid, because you cant; we would have to
have been born with balls and nature marks you. But shit, of course, find a language in
which you can express yourself, because it's all a masculine tradition, as well as a
masculine point of view, with some exceptions.
AS: Do you think that things are changing?
DM: I think there is a difference between prose and poetry. In poetry things are not
really changing. There are some exceptions, but if we look at the female poets of this
century, we have women like Maria Antonia Oliver, the woman of the "Escola
Mallorquina" [Mallorcan School], who was sometimes named in passing among the
"important men." And of the rest of the women . . . there is the wife of Carles
Riba, but shes "the wife of Carles Riba." This smells bad. There is
another woman, Rosa Leveroni, who lived in Cadaqués, and was also known by her
relationship to these writers. Maybe the key is in relating oneself to "them"?
And then there is a very curious case, that of the
70s generation. There was a woman named Maria Mercè Marçal, who had her detractors, but
for me was the woman - no, human being - who was the most interesting, poetically
speaking, of her generation. Interesting for her use of language, for the techniques of
song that she incorporated, for her themes, for the force of her discourse . . . there was
a book in homage to her only after her death. I dont know, it seems strange, I think
- is it possible that there have been female narrators, novelists, and there havent
been any female poets? I think that it's like the last room in a castle, closed off, and
they let you in for a drink, but. . .
AS: After your drink, you have to leave?
DM: And get back to your chores! I dont know, with the crowd I
move in, I dont think of them as being machistas, yet unconsciously they tend
to follow that trend. But, with younger women I see more equality. With Francesc, and
Eduard Escoffet, there are more mixed recitals. . .
AS: Eduard says that he can never manage to get forty or fifty
per cent of women in his recitals, that there are women who write, but they dont go
out to readings as much.
DM: I dont know, but there are women. Of course, thats that circle, but
there are others, where there are more women . . . women who have different poetic
AS: Would you say that these women share any particular style?
DM: Yes, more this poetry of experience, looking at ones life, making
conclusions, putting images to them. Ive always complained about this. The first
time I was called to recite - and I went because I had such an urge to yell - I remember
being told, "Come, because youre the only woman, and if you dont,
theyll say were machista." Maybe it was a joke, but it was still
said. I dont want to say that there are no women poets, there are tons - in
Catalunya you pick up your foot and out come at least twenty poets. But you don't see many
in the vanguard.
AS: Can you talk a little about your own poetry? How did you
begin the truck-driver haiku poems?
DM: I wrote El llibre dels homes [The Book of Men] first, in which I
complained about men; it is a response to a 15th century book complaining about women [El
llibre dels dones (The Book of Women) by Jaume Roig]. The haikus which came
about were like offering a vision without resolving it. Poetry normally resolves. A haiku
is like going through life, seeing images and those images tell you what they want, and if
they dont want to tell you anything, they dont. It was this idea I had, a very
typical one - a road and a truck-driver. I dont know why, because a truck-driver is
AS: Is this truck-driver a man?
DM: It is me, and it isnt. Sometimes you look at them [the haikus] and they are
so simple that you say: this is nothing. But when you are writing them, you feel really
great, then when you stop writing and you look at them. . . there is something else in
AS: Do you have other books apart from these two?
DM: I have one called Esgarips [Screams]; the poems are like screams, yells.
And then I have another called Sonets de la mala llet [Bad Mood Sonnets], but for
me the "mala llet" ran out in 1993, and I dont know when itll
return. Also, something that Víctor Nik has right now, Gitana Rock, that hes
illustrating. I will publish the haikus this year, and the rest Im not sure when.
AS: Do you recite much?
DM: No, a normal amount. Im not a professional. I like to recite with Enric
Casassas and all of that circle because it's all very vital - there is an energy, a poetic
craziness. This is what I like, and there are moments that I have incredible urges to
speak, to communicate, and other moments when I have no desire at all. Víctor gets a
little angry . . . Im a little bit of a lunatic, and when it comes, it comes. If
not, I cant do it. The other day I had to drink six beers just to recite.
AS: Do you think that female Catalan poets have more in common
with male Catalan poets or women poets in other countries?
DM: I think about half and half. What interests me in Catalan literature is medieval
literature, and from my generation, Enrics poetry. From this century, Ferrater and
Vinyoli interest me. But a lot of what I like is foreign. Yes, literature has nationality,
but it's really what you like. Nationality doesnt matter, whether it's Chinese or
what have you. What is important is that you understand it, that it's translated well and
that you like it.
AS: What are your influences? What are your personal likes and
dislikes in poetry?
DM: I take a little from everybody, I dont stick with one thing. What I
dont like is the poetry of "experience" that I mentioned. I also avoid
"diseño" poetry. This type of poetry takes from vanguard techniques, uses very
modern words, certain pre-determined images, new things, but it's all very superficial.
AS: How would you describe your own poetry?
DM: I think what it has is vitality and musicality.
Click here to hear Dolors Miquel read a sampling of
her poetry in her native Catalan.