Tag Archives: XXVIII LOEWE Foundation International Poetry Award

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 2015 LOEWE Poetry Prize, again in America

Cuban poet Víctor Rodriguez Núñez (Havana, 1955) has won the 28th LOEWE Foundation International Poetry Prize for his book despegue (take-off). The jury, integrated by Francisco Brines, José Manuel Caballero Bonald, Antonio Colinas, Óscar Hahn, Cristina Peri Rossi, Soledad Puértolas, Jaime Siles, Luis Antonio de Villena, and chaired by Victor Garcia de la Concha, has chosen a book which they found courageous, authentic, and able to link irrationalism with social immediacy. The LOEWE Young Poets Prize has been given to Carla Badillo Coronado from Ecuador (Quito, 1985) for her book El color de la granada (the colour of the pomegranate).

JoséManuelCaballero Bonald,JaimeSiles,SoledadPuértolas,VíctorGarcíadelaConcha,LuisAntoniodeVillena,EnriqueLoewe,JesúsGarcíaSánchez,SheilaLoewe,ÓscarHahn,FranciscoBrines,AntonioColinas-foto Álvaro ToméOn November 11, at the LOEWE Store in Gran Vía in Madrid, and after a few loving words remembering the recently deceased Carlos Bousoño, the names of the winners were made public in a ceremony attended by the members of the Jury and by Enrique and Sheila Loewe, Honorary President and Director of the LOEWE Foundation, respectively.

This year, 30 books have been finalists among the 801 entries submitted from 29 different countries, 27% of them from Latin America. The LOEWE Poetry Prize awards an unpublished work of 300 verses and a Young Poets Prize is given to a poet under 30.

Víctor Rodríguez Núñez

Luis Antonio de Villena began his presentation of the awarded book, despegue, highlighting the importance of Cuba “as one of the most important creation places for the Spanish language”. He explained how the origin of Víctor Rodríguez Núñez -born in Havana and currently living in the United States- has influenced his “criticism towards Cuban reality from an outside point of view” and the “communicative and baroque protest in this book in face of a world that must ‘take-off’. His deep knowledge on poetic tradition allows him to renovate and “to play with the shadow of a sonnet”, in words of Luis Antonio de Villena.

Carla Badillo Coronado-foto Mark Alvarez

Poet Antonio Colinas emphasised the “maturity” of Carla Badillo Coronado and her poetry. To him, her verses mean a public defense addressing symbology in a quite complex perspective for her age. The struggle of the pairing life-death and a “subtle skepticism that shakes the reader both forcefully and directly”, creates “a book that makes us feel and think about the limits of life, always with an extraordinary expressive sobriety”.

Next March the members of the Jury will meet the poets at the Prize Ceremony and the presentation of their books, which will be published by Visor publishing house.

Photographs: José Manuel Caballero Bonald, Jaime Siles, Víctor García de la Concha, Soledad Puértolas, Luis Antonio de Villena, Enrique Loewe, Chus Visor, Sheila Loewe, Óscar Hahn, Francisco Brines and Antonio Colinas © Álvaro Tomé for LOEWE Foundation, 2015. Víctor Rodríguez Núñez © Katherine M Hedeen and Carla Badillo Coronado © Mark Álvarez.