Interview with María Victoria Caro Bernal: “I define myself in my poems and in the title of the book, Tierra amada. Spirit of perfection”

In 1986, he won the First Andalusian Prize for Poetry Antonio Machado, the year in which he published his first work, white linen (Parasol notebooks). She is also the author of Scepter of Living Thorns (Tulipa Editora, 2019), written in Galician and Farsi, and beloved land. spirit of perfectionwith a version only in Spanish (Vive Libro, 2014), one in this language and in English and Arabic (Nueva Estrella, 2019) and another in Arabic and Spanish (Editorial Diwan, 2020).

Apart from the Antonio Machado of 1986, Mary Victoria Caro He has obtained many other awards in fair recognition of his career, reflecting his multifaceted personality, intellectual restlessness and spirit of solidarity. Examples to mention, among others, are the First International Women’s Day Award, the Clara Campoamor Award for Women’s Rights, the Martin Luther King International Award, the Medal for Cultural Development and her appointment, on two occasions, as Doctor Honoris Causa. In addition, she is the Ambassador of Palestine for the Foundation Committee for the Support of the Palestinian People (CAPP).

beloved land. spirit of perfection” is a spiritual journey of knowledge and discovery from the author herself, whose interior represents going from the center of the Earth, towards the stars. A contemplative reflection on the Being from a Christian, Sephardic and Muslim mystical perspective, which delves into ideas such as the eternal return, the circularity of time, love and sensuality. The work is translated into Arabic by Saiid Alami (in the part of the collection of poems) and by Ahmad Yamani (in the prologues and epilogues), and into English by Anthony Michael Wilson, writer and professor at the British Council, husband of Caro Bernal.

What inspired you to write beloved land. spirit of perfection?

The experience of my spiritual fulfillment and love. As you know, this collection of poems is structured in four parts. The inspiration is not the same in the different parts or in all the poems in each part. Philopoetry, Unity religada, Ramificados and Poem Night. The names of these sections are explicit. There is a crescendo in metaphysical intensity.

The book is based on the verses of Saint Teresa of Ávila, Saint John of the Cross and the Sufis, practitioners of a mystical variant of Islam. Do you think there are enough similarities between the Christian and Muslim religions? Have you also thought of other referents in literature and philosophy when writing it?

To say that it is based on someone is excessive, because I have never done it, therefore, it is false that this book is based on Saint Teresa of Jesus. She wanted to be called Teresa de Jesús, not “of Ávila”. Nor is it based on Saint John of the Cross or the Sufi sages. I have never been inspired by his writings or anyone else’s poems. You think it or whoever says it. I do not need to base myself on what someone has written, with all due respect for what they wrote and my deepest affection and gratitude towards them, who did it with much more quality than me in every way, form and substance. In “Land beloved. Spirit of perfection” I tell about myself and my metaphysical experiences in the only way I have been able to express them: in poetry. I accept that there may be coincidental similarities with Persian, Oriental or Christian poems. Not because I have relied on them, but because they may refer to similar experiences of consciousness. Answering your first question: yes. The great religions have great similarities, fortunately. The most beautiful is love for God and love for humanity, in his image and likeness. What a great mystery and reality! I do not find a better way to carry out this and other precepts, but to respect and ensure respect for human rights, which gives living fullness to religious practice in society and among peoples. The answer to your second question is: no, not at all I have not thought about other referents of literature or philosophy when writing “Tierra amada. Spirit of perfection”. Who wants to compare, let him do it. It’s in your right.

Do you consider yourself a mystical person?

I know who I am. I don’t need labels. It is said in my poems. I define myself in them and in the title of the book. There are literary critics who have pointed out that my poems are mystical. I am very grateful to them. They do not give me any medal with it, because the merits would not be mine. Modesty puts me in my place. I don’t have to say if they are or not. Those who want to investigate, investigate. I have spent two-thirds of my life looking for people who are similar to me, with experiences similar to mine. I keep looking for them, they are rare.

Has writing this book made you consider any other intellectual horizon? Have you found answers or generated new questions?

Thanks to this book I communicate with the other. I make myself more visible. I don’t use it to take me to another intellectual horizon, other than to communicate what I long for. I want the book to be known, because it reveals mysteries that undoubtedly serve the personal development of those who read it. For that, not for my intellectual or material benefit. The profits from all my books, and those from the Friendly Voices Collection, periodically go to the Rafah Refugee Camp, in the Gaza Strip, bordering Egypt. My books, I, and other authors, are in solidarity with the Palestinian people and the Palestinian Cause. So another intellectual horizon would be social poetry, but the point of support is not this book. That impulse also comes from my awareness of the human being and his immaterial transcendence. On your second question, this book does not give me answers to my new questions nor has it generated new questions for me. This book reminds me. “Loved land. Spirit of perfection” places me in myself. I hope that the readers do provide answers, but they hardly ask me anything. Is it that they assume they know what they are reading about, or does it come to them in a subtle way. It’s okay.

If you had to reflect your work in another cultural facet, what area would you choose: music, painting, sculpture, the stage or philosophy?

What I feel least educated in is music, although many years ago, when I was 17, I passed the first solfeggio course at the Malaga Conservatory. So I studied some piano and guitar. I did not persevere, because I was imbued with dramatic art studies. Afterwards, there would be painting and modeling and, finally, philosophy. I can handle myself well in these arts, because they are not alien to me. Philosophy is not alien to me either. My preference has always been Platonism and Neo-Platonism.

In his collection of poems, he establishes a strong connection between spirituality and sensuality. Why does he believe that this last idea has been trivialized so much in society?

It is not true that there is such a connection, although it may seem so. Sorry. It may be that the words seem to say what they do not say, or the images they convey are limited to the reader’s experience. In reality, there is no such “strong connection” that you speak of. There is none in reality, but by recreation of the words that remain scarce in concept when telling the metaphysical experiences of consciousness. It may be that this apparent connection can be seen in my poems, but they are interpretations alien to me and to most of the poems in “Tierra amada. Spirit of perfection”. I know it’s inevitable, but those who see that don’t trivialize spirituality, it’s that they fall far short of metaphysical reality and human consciousness. Possibly they are immersed in the sensitive and material. Overshadowed with what the senses sift. Each one sees what he can, and as far as he can, from his life experience. As spirituality is directly related to religions, it is inevitable that in Western societies, so puffed up by the scientific and theoretical knowledge achieved, spirituality is seen in a contemptuous way or is simply separated from among the topics of interest, due to arrogance or lack of a deep connection with our true identity.

Have you had any institutional support for the publication of your book?

No. I have never received any support from any institution for any project, or to publish this book or any other. I have not asked for it, nor do I need to. The edition of my books has always been carried out by publishers, as it should be. They have trusted me, which I appreciate, and I in all of them until today. I am very grateful to them.

Do you think that poetry is booming in Spain?

Without a doubt, poetry is booming in Spain and in the world. So are the novel and the essay. I am very happy about it, and even more so that feminist literature is also booming all over the world. We women are taking our places in literature, science, politics and the arts. I am glad of it. It’s good for everyone.

He had planned to publish a collection of poems against genocides. How is the project going?

It’s almost finished. Finally there will be two books. We will see them soon. I think that as it is a more social poetry than a philosophical one, its uptake may be easier.

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Interview with María Victoria Caro Bernal: “I define myself in my poems and in the title of the book, Tierra amada. Spirit of perfection”