The last two editions of the National Poetry Prize and the most recent of Young Poetry have gone to works written in the Galician language and by three women . What is happening in the northwest corner of the Iberian Peninsula? “I reformulate the question,” retrucates the poet and editor Antía Otero. “What has not stopped happening? The quality of poetry in Galicia has always been extremely high ”.
Pilar Pallarés (Culleredo-A Coruña, 1957), who received the distinction awarded by the Ministry of Culture in 2019 for Tempo fossil , has a creative career of 40 years; and Olga Novo (A Pobra do Brollón-Lugo, 1975), recently awarded by Feliz Idade , has published verses for 25 years.
What has changed, most of the authors and editors consulted claim, is that the center has raised its head and directed its eyes towards the periphery: Spain has discovered the lineage of Rosalía de Castro.
The National Poetry Prize began to be awarded in 1977 with that name, but it took 36 years for a work in Galician to be recognized. The winner was in 2013 Os Angles da brasa by Manuel Álvarez Torneiro, who died a year ago.
“What happens is that the Spanish critics have discovered us, which is very focused on Madrid. There are other great non-Galician poets who are not in Madrid circles and who are not recognized either, ”says Pallarés.
Novo believes that the awards “respond to the conjuncture of a moment in literary systems” and calls for “relativizing their impact”: “It reveals the sensitivity and openness of the members of this specific jury, which does not mean that another year and with another jury with different sensitivities, the quality of peripheral literatures is recognized ”.
Gonzalo Hermo (Rianxo-A Coruña, 1987) was the first Galician who won, in 2015, the Miguel Hernández National Prize for Young Poetry, an award also granted by the Ministry of Culture and that this year his countrywoman Alba Cid received for Atlas.
He agrees that what is different now is “the look, because Galician poetry has been very powerful since the Middle Ages” and sees translations as one of the causes. Pallarés’s work had barely been translated into Spanish when he was awarded the distinction and can be read more in English than in Cervantes’ language.
“My generation has been lucky enough to have a good time of interest in poetry in Galician”, points out the 2015 National Prize for Young Poetry. “Translations are not now so minority and the prizes come from that interest in reading and translating us . It must be celebrated, it is a question of historical justice ”.
Otero, founder together with the poet Dores Tembrás of the Apiario publishing house, deduces that these distinctions show an “unfair lack of knowledge” outside of Galicia of long-standing authors. But he does not dare to take for granted that this neglect of peripheral literatures in Spain has come to an end.
“It is still too early to say so.” In the 43 editions of the National Poetry Prize, six works in languages other than Spanish have been recognized (three in Catalan, three in Galician and none in Basque), half of them in the last three editions and signed by women.