Author Archives: Fundación Loewe

Getting to know better Orlando Mondragón, winner of the XXXIV Loewe Foundation Poetry Prize

Orlando Mondragón has joined the list of winners of the LOEWE FOUNDATION International Poetry Prize, becoming the first poet under the age of 30 to win the award. We spoke to him to get to know him better.

Where do you usually write?  Is there a place that particularly inspires you?

I would love to continue using pencil and paper when I write, as I always have, but lately I’ve been jotting things down in my cell phone in an attempt to land that elusive and capricious fish called inspiration. I’m always looking to see if anything bites and when it does, I have to set the hook regardless of where I may be.

As for editing poems, I usually do that at night. I sit in my room, at my desk, sheltered by my books.

Many people think of poetry as a means of escaping from reality. Do you agree or do you think poetry somehow takes the temperature of what is happening in our personal lives and in society as a whole?

Both, actually. I turn to poetry when I need a break from my daily life. It’s my safe place. But then, there are certain poems and poets whose work hits me hard, whose verses become the most acute of magnifying glasses, allowing us to examine the current climate.

Talking about what is happening in the world is, in my opinion, inherent to writing. In a way, a poet’s task is to take the tribe’s words and reassign them with new meaning before giving them back. To do that you must keep your eyes and ears open.

Even on a personal level, the world influences our thoughts and actions. The way in which we connect with others is constantly changing. For example, falling in love today is very different to what falling in love was like in the 15th century. What’s more, it’s very different to what it was like 50 years ago. And this is reflected in poetry. In that respect, I like to think of poems as the annals where the history of thought and emotions is written.

What inspires or drives you to write?

Pedro Mairal says that writing requires a bit of sleepwalking, and I have to agree. I think of inspiration as an intuition that you suddenly become aware of, a preverbal emotion that finds its words. And if you don’t follow your intuition, you lose it. To be more specific, I write about the things that touch me deeply. It can be an emotion, something I saw when I was out and about, a personal experience or even someone else’s, a word I hear in passing that triggers a memory; I don’t know, many things.

Has sharing personal experiences through your work made you feel emotionally naked vis-à-vis your readers?

Undoubtedly. Regardless of the distance you try to establish between what you write and your private life, there is always a trace of who you are in your writing; something that is revealed, and exposed to others. And, of course, this makes us feel vulnerable. But if, as a poet, you don’t allow yourself to feel vulnerable, then who does?

Do you think of the pace of modern life as a poet’s ally or enemy?

As an enemy. Reading poetry requires a different kind of concentration. At least in my case. This means pausing the mind in order to observe each word and each line of verse. If I rush through a poem, it won’t speak to me; but if I go back to it and I reread it taking my time, I am able to find its rhythm, its internal beat, and then I’ll find myself in total and complete awe.

The Nutcracker at Barcelona’s Gran Teatre del Liceu

The Toulouse Ballet du Théâtre du Capitole presents The Nutcracker at Barcelona’s Gran Teatre del Liceu with the support of the LOEWE FOUNDATION. This traditional holiday-season ballet narrates the adventures of little Marie and is performed to Tchaikovsky’s score.

Inspired by his own childhood and experience as an étoile at the Paris National Opera Ballet, Kader Belarbi, the company’s director, has choreographed his own version of this classical masterpiece that premiered in 1892 at the St Petersburg’s Imperial Ballets. Act One takes place at a children’s boarding school where a handful of orphans spend Christmas with their headmaster, a character by the name of Drosselmeyer. Belarbi grants him magical powers that will allow Marie to dive into a dream-like world filled with adventures.

In complete juxtaposition with the sombre opening act, Act Two is a magical display of music boxes, folding paper fans, and colourful cut-outs designed by Antoine Fontaine with lighting by Hervé Gary. Carefully designed costumes by Philippe Guillotel blend-in seamlessly with Kader Belarbi’s choreography, which includes on pointe, but no pink tutus. Under his able direction, academic ballet becomes an artistic medium that frees dancers from the heaviness of virtuosity. Marie, the lead character, who reminds us of Pippi Longstocking –fun red wig included– surrounds herself with a group of five “toy” friends reminiscent of the famous children’s saga that Enid Blyton penned. It would appear that Belarbi’s own childhood merges into the character development to surprise us with paradoxical familiarity and transgression. This is especially true during the second act: the Spanish dancers are frogs, the Arabian scene features a Michelin Man lookalike, and the Russian dance takes us back to a soviet factory where the mysterious Drosselmeyer manipulates mechanical toys and inventions at will.

For this choreography, Kader Belarbi turned to the play that inspired the original Nutcracker ballet: Alexandre Dumas’ The Nutcracker and the Mouse King. He also tapped into the fascinating aesthetics of film director Georges Méliès to ensure the ballet would captivate the attention of both children and adults. Under the direction of Marius Stieghorst, the Gran Teatre del Liceu orchestra accompanies the Théatre du Capitol ballet company interpreting Tchaikovsky’s score, with arrangements by Anthony Rouchier. Watch The Nutcracker in Barcelona from 28th December to 4th January.

Photography: The Nutcracker © David Herrero for The Ballet du Théatre du Capitole.

Diego Doncel, the poet of hypothetical readers

“A prize such as this one always comes at the best time”, says Diego Doncel (Malpartida, Spain, 1964), winner of the 33rd LOEWE FOUNDATION International Poetry Prize. Jaime Siles described the winning book, La fragilidad, as “a complete, decisive, and thorough book of poems that shows an admirable, vital, and expressive maturity”. The book is about losing one’s father and it’s a story that, as Doncel points out, “was inside me, was very intense, but emerged at its own pace, slowly, even quietly. I wanted to focus on the pain, and, most importantly, I wanted to give value to what it means to fight for our loved ones, for their lives, for our memories of them. It was about transforming all that suffering into an act of love”. The poet goes on to explain that writing means “learning to wait”. He prepared himself both mentally and emotionally “to ensure the memories and experiences would flow, in order to identify the truly important parts of that immense experience. The same was true for the actual words. I knew it would be impossible for that experience to exist if I was not able to find the right voice, the right images. The goal is not for the poem to reflect the experience that motivated it,” he adds, “but rather for the experience to take place within the poem”.

Doncel believes this collection of poems might be a consequence of all that he’s written before. “Perhaps I abandoned many things and went in search of others. Maybe the pact I made with myself to tell the truth, to read through my journal entries in order to recall what I had felt or thought at certain times, helped me find that voice. I believe everything is inside of us; we just need to look for it”, he concludes. He admits there are biographical elements in his work, particularly from his second book onwards, and goes on to explain that “sometimes my poems are about my life and other times about other people’s lives and experiences. It’s not uncommon to have them co-exist in the same poem”.

The 2021 winner says that the book’s launch has made him feel ‘fragile’. “A book is like a new being, it fills everything with joy, but it comes with its own set of responsibilities, especially when so many readers identify with the content”, he explains. He believes a book’s strength lies “in the fact that it stops being yours and becomes the book of a handful of people who, oftentimes, you’ve never even met, who perhaps haven’t even been born yet. It doesn’t matter if a book ends up on a forgotten shelf at a discount bookshop. What’s important is that there’s a reader somewhere who needs to find it. It is written for that hypothetical reader”.

He longs for poetry to “provide solace, to be a friendly companion” and likes to think of a poem as “something you tell someone in confidence, like a big secret you whisper to loved one”. Using his personal experience as research, Diego Doncel is working on an essay about poetry and about “its importance in today’s world; about its reach and relevance beyond its commercial value”. Doncel explains that, “according to Gabriel Ferraté, Carles Riba questioned poetry’s place in current economic, philosophical, and social systems. I wonder about that too, so I’m tackling this immense question in an attempt to find some answers. We have to try to show the generations living at the beginning of this new century the value of poetry and the extent to which a poem enhances our sensibility”.

The poet admits that he entered the LOEWE Prize “because of its unquestionable importance; because of what the prize means for all poetry written in Spanish”. But also because of the possibility “that this family story that caused us so much pain could also bring us joy”. In addition, he says, “the award is linked to my father, so it’s become a double source of satisfaction. It has also served to mitigate the crossroads at which we find ourselves. For many reasons, we are living in historic times. We are required to give the best of ourselves and I think it’s a good thing that I contribute with this book of poems”.

Photo captions: Diego Doncel, photographed by Álvaro Tomé for LOEWE FOUNDATION, 2021.

Mario Obrero, when fields lie fallow

Mario Obrero (Madrid, 2003) believes poetry “doesn’t exist by chance. It is the result of very specific reasons or circumstances based on the mandates of beauty and the possible existence of a different horizon”. The poet’s youth has been no impediment for his admirable career: he began writing poems at the age of seven. Obrero explains that “Machado’s ‘today is ever always’ is a reality, and in today’s poetic universe, Lesbo’s Sappho is just as relevant as the young poets I admire and with whom I spend time with at conferences”.

Obrero, who has published and received prizes for several books of poetry, won the 23rd LOEWE FOUNDATION Young Poet’s Award while finishing his baccalaureate at the La Senda de Getafe Public High School and taking guitar lessons at the local Professional Conservatory of Music. “It was Monday and I was at home, cooped up in the attic, that quasi aerial space I inhabit”, he recalls. “I had just come out of the first session of an online poetry reading club that I was lucky enough to be enrolled in, led by Jordi Doce from the Fundación Centro de Poesía José Hierro. That first day we had been reading Seven Modern American Poets (Pamiela, 1991). I like to think that Pastan, Rich, and Forché were somehow responsible for that unexpected call, which I received while playing Moreno Torroba’s Torija on the guitar”, he adds.

Thanks to the lockdown “I did something that I’d never had a chance to do: I corrected my poems in an environment where poetry was the driver of hope and was also responsible for giving meaning to such an abnormal situation. It was the final push Peachtree City needed”, he recalls. “Having had the time to construct the book, to focus on its cycles as it came to life, and to calmly develop its contents through hard work encouraged me to submit the final result to the Loewe Prize”, he adds. It’s a book in which “the vocabulary of the experience itself and of the poetic voice used was new: words such as dollar, peanut, celery or gallon appear often as a result of new discoveries”. On the other hand, he adds, “I try to develop something that was already palpable in my previous book, Ese ruido ya pájaro (Ediciones Entricíclopes): the resonance and diverse plurality of language. I continue to reconcile -or at least I try to reconcile- the complex and multiple nature of poetic expressions. That is, to show the ‘marvelous disorder of things’ that Hierro talked about or the multitude of Bosch’s Garden of Earthly Delights“.

When asked about his role models, he replies: “My great-grandfather Dionisio, my grandparents, and that family buried in the humblest of graves, whose name has almost faded away. Poets Whitman, Ginsberg and Lorca for their rebellious voices, their energy, and their accurate description of all that is crude and dirty in the United States”. Juan Ramón Jiménez and José Hierro, both of whom make an appearance in his poem ‘New York’. And “two magnificent fellow writers who, in a certain way, are the book’s backbone”: Ramón Piñeiro, whose book A filosofía da saudade spoke to him “about what is close but unmentionable” while living in Peachtree City, and Virginia Woolf, whose work he read in English, the language it was written in, while editing his own work. Her Orlando became his pen name when he sent his submission in.

Mario Obrero’s academic circle has been incredibly supportive. “The vast majority of my classmates and professors show fellowship and enormous affection. I think many of them understand the public nature of the joy that accompanies a prize such as this one and the role one’s community plays in poetry. Without my Latin teacher, the texts we read in philosophy class, or the historical analyses we worked on, my writing would not be what it is today. Therefore, the general view at my school is that the prize is a reward for a way of existing in the world and for a teaching approach based on the belief in others and on the ability to achieve difficult goals”, he explains. His immediate plans are to be like “one of those people in Lorca’s Canciones who went in search of all that is green with guitars and roosters. Be that as it may, working hard and putting one’s best efforts forward is of utmost importance in any human endeavor. The edifice of language cannot be built with one’s will or with natural talent alone. Therefore, I continue to work on looking at the world through the eyes of a poet, to appreciate that which may appear insignificant and to give value to what others deem to be trivial”.

Photo captions: Mario Obrero, photographed by Álvaro Tomé for LOEWE FOUNDATION, 2021.

KYOTOGRAPHIE 2021: On strength, resilience and humanity

The LOEWE FOUNDATION is pleased to announce the opening of Tanabe Chiku’unsai IV’s site-specific bamboo installation in the historic Nijō Castle for the Kyotographie festival.

As passionate advocates for art and craft all over the world, the LOEWE FOUNDATION is proud to support the internationally acclaimed artist Tanabe Chiku’unsai IV’s exhibition Connection-STAND during the Kyotographie festival of art and photography. Centred around a series of large, intertwined sculptures made from intricately woven bamboo installed within the 17th century Nijō Castle, a UNESCO-protected World Heritage Site, the exhibition also presents a series of specially commissioned photographs and a video documenting the making over the installation, created on-site over four days leading to the opening.

Tanabe Chiku’unsai IV was born in 1973, in Osaka, Japan, into a prestigious lineage of bamboo artists which can be traced back over 100 years. His works assimilate modern techniques with four generations of bamboo traditions to weave large, amorphous installations with the purpose of attracting global audiences to the wonders—and inherent sustainability—of working with the world’s fastest-growing plant.

Exploring themes of circularity, innovation and individuality, Chiku’unsai IV’s artworks embody a simple yet intricate sense of beauty. With each piece of bamboo being unique in their own way, the undulating forms of Chiku’unsai IV’s woven objects and installations are guided by the “different personalities” of each strand of tiger and black bamboo he uses. As bamboo has a stronger tensile strength than steel, his structures, created solely by human hands, support themselves. Often, the artist reuses material from previous sculptures when creating new works, and as such, his practice is as much a meditation on evolution and the cycle of life as it is a demonstration of bamboo’s aesthetic and architectural potentials.

Titled ECHO, the ninth edition of the Kyotographie exhibition explores humanity’s relationship to nature in the decade since the Great East Japan Earthquake and tsunami struck Japan in 2011. Running from 18 September – 27 October 2021, Tanabe Chiku’unsai IV’s Connection-STAND takes place in the Daidokoro Kitchen, Okiyodokoro Kitchen of Ninomaru Palace, in the southwest of the Nijō Castle complex. A selection of his work will then be installed at the LOEWE Paseo de Gracia store in Barcelona in early 2022.

The 33rd LOEWE Prize celebrates poetry once again

La fragilidad and Peachtree City, the winning books of the 33rd LOEWE FOUNDATION International Poetry Prize – published by Visor Editorial – were officially presented on 16th June. Following an extended period of time during which the pandemic prevented the celebration of these types of events, poetry took center stage at the Westin Palace Hotel in Madrid, bringing together friends, collaborators, personalities from the worlds of art and culture…as well as most Jury members and, needless to say, the Poetry Prize winners.

Last year was the first time two female poets won first prize, and also the first time since its inception 32 years ago that the award ceremony was cancelled. As such, this year’s celebration played host to last year’s winners, Aurora Luque (winner of the LOEWE Prize) and Raquel Vázquez (winner of the Young Poet’s Award), who were honored together with this year’s awardees. During the presentation, Sheila Loewe, President of the Foundation, reminded the audience how “we had to cancel last year’s award ceremony at the very last minute. This time, nothing will prevent us from celebrating poetry together”.  Raquel Vázquez read “Un lugar” from her book Aunque los Mapas, and Aurora Luque read “Gavieras”, also the title of the winning book.


Enrique Loewe, Honorary President of the Foundation, celebrated the continuity of the LOEWE Prize adding how poetry “has perfected me as a human being and as a connoisseur of a world as deep and full of nuances and surprises as is the world of poetry”. In remembrance of Francisco Brines and Caballero Bonald he added, “Today I am moved by this solitude, by what I learned from them, and by how they helped us keep going for so long”, he concluded.

Elena Medel, winner of the 2013 Young Poets Award, presented Peachtree City. “I recommend you read Mario’s book without thinking about his age. Of course it’s remarkable that he is only 17 and that he wrote it when he was 16, but it seems rather unfair to reduce such intelligent, generous, and brilliant writing to a number. It is an exceptional book,” she said during the presentation. A book that, in her words, “is about poetry’s identity and personal value, and its ability to forge who we are. Mario’s poetry is a lifeline allowing us to face the world”. Mario Obrero celebrated the fact that attendees “made time for poetry” in their schedules and also thanked the LOEWE Foundation and Elena Medel. According to the poet, Peachtree City is the expression of “poetry as a place we all have in common where empathy exists, allowing us to poetically identify with others on the basis of hope, solidarity and a deep awareness linked to beauty and memory”. During his speech, Mario Obrero pointed out that “adhering to poetic logic could be one of poetry’s natural roles. Poetic logic is neither the logic of reality, nor the logic of what happens in our day to day, nor the logic that guides the dominant discourses that wear us down. That said, he does not believe that poetic logic is “less honest, less legitimate, or less licit; on the contrary, there are moments during which it is aware of what happens in the shadows, of things that, our everyday reality, in its clumsiness, is unable to perceive”.

Playwright Alberto Conejero presented Diego Doncel’s La fragilidad at this gathering held on “the occasion of poetry”. The “raison d’être” of the winning book, said Conejero, “is orphanhood and the days and nights leading up to it”. It is a work “with two protagonists: the father who dies, and the orphan, who is born. The scattered tesserae of two disintegrated men ¾one as a result of life, the other of death¾ who make up the refined mosaic of this work”. This collection of poems, Conejero added, “is a journey that takes place after the father’s death, yet moves in the direction of the father himself. It is at once voyage and shipwreck; tempest and safe haven”. Diego Doncel pointed to “that rare feeling one experiences when living life with intensity”, one that exists in concentrated fashion when creating poetry, but also when reading it, a homage to the books that have been published over the past 32 years thanks to the LOEWE Prize. “I hope that this book, which was born from feeling raw and exposed, and also from a place of truth, has touched a large number of people, and that they have felt accompanied by it,” he added. “I think poetry’s fundamental role”, he continued, “is to portray life’s intensity; that these few humble words ¾which have required centuries of civilization and, which, in my opinion, is one of the greatest achievements of the human mind¾ are capable of making us relive certain experiences. Poetry is not poetry if it doesn’t move you, even if only linguistically”. His book, he said, “is an attempt at showing that personal struggle is life’s greatest dignity. This is the diary of a struggle”.

The following day, free of spring showers and in a seeming continuum of the previous day’s events, Diego Doncel and Mario Obrero were invited to read at the Royal Botanical Gardens in Madrid. Obrero spoke of how his stay at Peachtree City elicited a “longing for the Spanish “ñ” and the “accents on words” and Doncel reflected on “the fragility of what is important”. In this garden, the poets managed to temporarily pause the hustle and bustle of the city as they shed light on the fundamentals of the poetic process.

Photo Captions: Presentation of the 33rd LOEWE FOUNDATION International Poetry Prize and poetry reading at the Royal Botanical Gardens in Madrid.

Discover the seven artists receiving the LOEWE FOUNDATION / Studio Voltaire Award

Launched earlier this year, the LOEWE FOUNDATION / Studio Voltaire Award was
established to celebrate talent, individuality and original thinking within contemporary
art practice. The programme aims to increase and strengthen equitable representation
and access, and amplify artistic voices across class, race, gender, sexuality and disability.

The 2021–2023 awardees are: Ayo Akingbade, Ufuoma Essi, Adam Farah, Nnena Kalu,
Djofray Makumbu, Josiah Moktar and Curtly Thomas. The selected artists work across a
range of disciplines and mediums, encompassing a diverse set of interests, experiences
and modes of working.

Each awardee receives a rent–free workspace within Studio Voltaire’s newly developed
buildings for two years, a bursary of £2,000, an individualised programme of mentoring
and professional development, dedicated curatorial and pastoral support and access to
local and international audiences via public events programming.

Developed in direct response to the urgent need for affordable and secure workspace
for artists, as well as the detrimental impact that the COVID–19 pandemic is having on
artist’s lives, the LOEWE FOUNDATION / Studio Voltaire award aims to cultivate spaces
where artists can connect in a supportive studio environment that facilitates creative
possibilities, risk–taking, experimentation and exchange.

Awarded artists were selected by a panel of leading curators and artists: Sepake
Angiama, Artistic Director of Iniva; Andrew Bonacina, Chief Curator of The Hepworth
Wakefield; artists Anthea Hamilton and Elizabeth Price; and Studio Voltaire’s Curator
(Studios & Residencies), Maggie Matić and Director, Joe Scotland.

The seven recipients of the LOEWE FOUNDATION / Studio Voltaire Award will move into
their studios from July 2021, joining Studio Voltaire’s community of artists including Ain
Bailey, Lubna Chowdhary, Kaye Donachie, Anthea Hamilton, and Languid Hands (Rabz
Lansiquot and Imani Robinson).

Discover more in our Instagram and in Studio Voltaire’s webpage.

LOEWE FOUNDATION Craft Prize 2022 – Submissions now open

LOEWE is pleased to open submissions for the LOEWE FOUNDATION Craft Prize 2022, which will take place in Seoul in spring next year. Entries to the fifth edition of the prize will be accepted  until 25 October 2021.



Fanglu Lin, ‘SHE’. Winner of the LOEWE FOUNDATION Craft Prize 2022.

An expert panel composed of artists, artisans, essayists, curators and designers will consider allsubmitted works in order to select a shortlist of up to 30 submissions. New additions to the expert panel this year include, Peter Bauhuis (metal artist and finalist of the Craft Prize 2021), Jiyong Lee (glass artist and finalist of the Craft Prize 2021), Juha Marttila (LOEWE Leather Goods Design Director), Kavita Parmar (textile designer) and Zizipho Poswa (ceramicist).

The panel’s choice will be based on a number of key criteria: originality, clear artistic vision and  merit, precise execution, material excellence, innovative value and a distinct authorial mark.

The shortlisted works will then form the basis of an exhibition due to go on display in Seoul, South Korea from which the Prize’s Jury will select the winning piece. New members of the Jury for 2022 include Magdalene Odundo (world-renown Kenyanborn British ceramicist), Abraham Thomas (Curator of Modern Architecture, Design, and Decorative Arts at the Metropolitan  Museum of Art, New York) and Fanglu Lin (textile artist and winner of the LOEWE FOUNDATION  Craft Prize 2021).

Recreation of the main hall of the Musée des Arts Décoratifs, Paris. LOEWE FOUNDATION Craft Prize 2021 digital exhibiton.

The winner of this year’s prize, Fanglu Lin, was announced on 25 May 2021 to coincide with the opening of the digital exhibition of the LOEWE FOUNDATION Craft Prize 2021. which will remain online until 25 October 2021.

You can download the rules of entry for the LOEWE FOUNDATION Craft Prize here.

Getting to know better Diego Doncel and Mario Obrero, winners of the XXXIII Loewe Foundation Poetry Prize

Diego Doncel, winner of the XXXIII LOEWE FOUNDATION Poetry Prize, by Yago Castromil.

Diego Doncel and Mario Obrero became part of the LOEWE FOUNDATION Poetry Prize in a year marked by strangeness, but also by the importance of getting to know each other better.

That’s why we chatted with the award winners in the places that inspire them – the Parque del Oeste, in Madrid, for Diego Doncel and his family home in Getafe, Madrid, in the case of Mario Obrero – to get to know them better.

Many people think of poetry as a means of escaping from reality. Do you agree or do you think poetry somehow takes the temperature of what’s happening in our personal lives and society as a whole?

DIEGO DONCEL: In the dedication page I include in my books, I say that we write poetry because we are searching to live with that rare intensity. I don’t think of poetry as an escape from reality but as the place where life manifests itself, where it becomes more intense.

What’s important to note is that poems are not pale and simple reflections of life, but rather where life is created. A poem is a linguistic fact that is on its way to becoming an emotion. As such, it’s a spiritual adventure. I like meditative poetry, the kind that Unamuno said thinks the feeling and feels the thinking. Or in Pessoa’s words: the part of me that feels is thinking.

MARIO OBRERO: I might not be knowledgeable enough to talk about how this applies to poetry as a whole, but I can comment on how it applies to poets. Poets, as people, cannot be separated from their circumstances, from the society they live in, from their communities. I would go as far as to say that it’s the desire to take care of, share and widen collective horizons that actually drives the creative process.

Even so, there are times when “escaping from reality” is more commonplace in our day-to-day lives than in poetry. Reality is Woolf’s mist, Pérez Estrada’s bird child or Manuel Antonio’s sea, and yet we pay no attention to them as we navigate our daily routines.


What inspires or drives you to write?

DIEGO DONCEL: I write because it’s what I was destined to do. All I’ve ever wanted to do since I was ten was to be a writer. When I turned eighteen, I won a prestigious prize that would have allowed me to publish the winning book of poems, but I turned it down.

Writing poetry carries an enormous responsibility to oneself. It’s important because, as everyone knows, it’s that secret you whisper in someone’s ear. It’s the bridge between the mystery you hold inside and mystery of the other person, the one who reads your work.

MARIO OBRERO: Just as the Fuentevaqueros poplars whispered in Lorca’s ear, I feel the need to write where I can listen to the whispers of my own surroundings and to the possibility of building a house that welcomes and values the utopia and motivation that hope brings with it.


Has sharing personal experiences in your work ever made you feel emotionally naked to your readers?

DIEGO DONCEL: Yes, most definitely. Particularly because the truth of what happened is behind every word, every verse, every poem. And that has determined my life forever. But when you write without hiding from the truth, you take on the act of publicly showing yourself and accept it.

You find there are many readers who will identify with your story, with what you felt: the pain and guilt, the fragility and the search for possible hope. That’s the beauty of literature; the words you write become the reader’s words, so that the act of reading becomes the bridge between different intimate worlds.

MARIO OBRERO: First of all, there is this wonderful invention in poetry known as the ‘poetic I’. I usually try to avoid the personal ‘I’, focusing either on the collective ‘I’ or the ‘I’ conceived where one’s imagination and sense of empathy lie. That said, there are no boundaries or ditches in poetry. As such, my experiences and I happily join the choir.

Mario Obrero, winner of the XXXIII LOEWE FOUNDATION Young Poets Award, by Yago Castromil.

Do you think the pace of modern life is a poet’s ally or enemy?

DIEGO DONCEL: Poems should talk about modern life, about petrol stations, cars, televisions, about what love means today… Things have changed.

Our relationship with nature and with our surroundings is no longer the same. Capitalist society, cities, small towns, everything is subject to new codes and interpretations. The way in which we write poetry must either change with the times, as it always has, or it must challenge it.

MARIO OBRERO: Rimbaud warned us to be “’radically contemporary’ and we should always listen to the rhythm, in as far as it’s a musical and uplifting element of life.

I think we should never succumb to the typical dominant behaviours or attitudes of certain fast-paced social models (poetry is also a type of resistance), but I don’t shy away from dancing to the furious pace imposed by certain agendas, as long as it’s my decision to do so.


Is being a poet a way of enjoying and celebrating the shared aspects of the human condition, or does it make you feel like the odd one out, an outsider?

DIEGO DONCEL: Poetry is a celebration because it’s written for others, but I believe a poet must be a loner in the sense that they must stand on the sidelines in order to be credible. I like those writers who did not succumb to the pomp of their times, who set themselves slightly apart in order to maintain an intimate relationship with things.

Joaquim Manuel Magalhães, one of the great poets I know, comes to mind. He lives in the countryside, far from everything, and he writes such real and mysterious poems. And the important thing is that every word that is said about him is one word too many.

MARIO OBRERO: Here’s a fascinating quote from Rilke’s Notes on the Melody of Things: ‘the person who perceives the whole melody shall be the most solitary and at the same time the most connected to the community.’

I’m quite intrigued by this, by how collective and group yearnings and the poet’s solitude come together. At the moment, I don’t quite know where I fit in. Luckily, everyone has doubts that can’t be resolved and questions that can’t be answered.

Announcing the LOEWE FOUNDATION / Studio Voltaire Award

Studio Voltaire and LOEWE FOUNDATION have announced the LOEWE
FOUNDATION / Studio Voltaire Award – a new programme benefitting seven
artists with two years of support through rent–free studio space, professional
development opportunities and a bursary. The second phase of the award, a new
year–long residency for an international artist to be based at Studio Voltaire, will
also be announced later this year. This major new programme coincides with the
reopening of Studio Voltaire in October 2021, following a transformative capital
development project.



The award has been developed in direct response to the urgent need for affordable
and secure workspace for artists. In recent years, there has been a significant
decrease in studio provision in London. The Covid–19 pandemic has had a detrimental
impact on artists’ lives, with many experiencing reduced opportunities, losses in
income and isolation. The LOEWE FOUNDATION / Studio Voltaire Award aims to
cultivate spaces where artists can connect in a supportive studio environment that
facilitates creative possibilities, risk–taking, experimentation and exchange.
The LOEWE FOUNDATION / Studio Voltaire Award has been established to celebrate
talent, individuality and original thinking within contemporary art practice. The
award will support artists at all stages of their careers including emerging and
underrepresented artists, particularly those who are marginalised or experience
intersecting forms of discrimination. The programme aims to increase and strengthen
equitable representation and access, and amplify artistic voices across class, race,
gender, sexuality and disability.
The two–year programme has been developed to provide a range of support including:
• A rent–free workspace within Studio Voltaire’s newly developed buildings
• A bursary of £2,000 for each artist
• An individualised programme of mentoring and professional development
• Curatorial and pastoral support
• Access to local and international audiences via public events programming
Awards will be allocated based on talent and need. Applications will be received
through an open call and via a group of selected nominators. Nominators include:
Sheryll Catto, Co–Director of ActionSpace; Languid Hands, an artistic and curatorial
collaboration between Rabz Lansiquot and Imani Robinson, writer and filmmaker
Juliet Jacques; Dr Mark Sealy, Director of Autograph ABP; Linsey Young;
Awarded artists will be selected by a panel of leading curators and artists:
Sepake Angiama, Artistic Director of Iniva; Andrew Bonacina, Chief Curator of The
Hepworth Wakefield; artists Anthea Hamilton and Elizabeth Price; and Studio Voltaire’s
Curator of Studios and Residencies, Maggie Matić and Director, Joe Scotland.
Applications are now open at