Interview with Marta Dacosta

Marta Dacosta speaking about Rosalía de Castro's influence on today's female literary scene

Marta Dacosta speaking about Rosalía de Castro’s influence on today’s female literary scene

Hai uns días estiveches en Cork falando da influencia de Rosalía nas escritoras galegas de hoxe. Poderías contarnos que foi o que máis che influiu a ti persoalmente? Descubriches a súa influencia de xeito repentino ou foi algo que se foi desenvolvendo en ti paseniñamente?

A few weeks ago you were in Cork speaking about the influence of Rosalía de Castro in today’s Galician female writing community. Could you tell us what influenced you most? Did you realized you were influenced by her all of a sudden or was it something that you developed gradually?

Eu entendo que Rosalía inflúe no conxunto da literatura galega desde o momento en que adopta dous posicionamentos literarios: a) restituír o galego como lingua literaria e defender a súa utilidade e a dignidade do pobo que ocreou, b) dar voz a quen habitualmente non formou parte das páxinas dos libros, o pobo, especialmente as mulleres, as que padeceron as consecuencias da negación do noso país mentres eran as depositarias da nosa identidade. Esta forma de estar na literatura que adopta Rosalía e que podemos considerar que vén condicionada polo tempo que lle tocou vivir, mais tamén pola súa capacidade de analizar e comprender a sociedade á que pertencía, está presente en moitos escritores e escritoras do noso país ao longo destes máis de cento cincuenta anos. Dalgún xeito fomos creados por Rosalía e por aquela xeración, pois foron quen de identificar as nosas necesidades e procurar a súa resolución.

No persoal non me atrevo eu a dicir cal sexa a súa influencia na miña obra, correspóndelle ás lectoras e aos lectores xulgar se así é. En todo caso, o que eu podo dicir é que lin atentamente a súa obra, que non deixo de lela nunca e que procuro transmitir as emocións que en min esperta. Considero que Rosalía é unha fonte que segue deitando auga e que cómpre seguir a beber nela, por iso a teño presente unha e outra vez.

I believe Rosalía influences the whole of Galician literature from the moment she adopts two specific literary stances: a) restoring Galician as a literary language and defending its usefulness and the dignity of the people who created it, b) giving a voice to those who were normally excluded in books: the people, especially women, who endured the consequences of the negation of our country while being the holders of our identity. This way of being in the literature adopted by Rosalía, which we can consider to have been conditioned by the time she lived in, but also by her ability to analyse and understand the society she belonged to, is present in many writers in our country over the last 150 years. In a way, we were created by Rosalía and her generation, as they were able to identify our needs and look into resolving them.

In regards to my personal relationship with Rosalía, I wouldn’t dare to talk about her influence in my works; it is for the readers to judge whether there is or isn’t. In any case, I can say that I read her works attentively, that I never stop reading her and I try to transmit the emotions she awakens in me. I consider Rosalía to be a fountain that is still pouring water and from which we should keep drinking, which is why I am always aware of her.

Harkaitz Cano falounos do decálogo do escritor vasco. Poderías comentarnos un par de cousas que poderían valer para comezar a crear o decálogo do escritor galego?

Harkaitz Cano talked about the Basque writer commandments. Could you tell us a couple of rules that could be a starting point for the Galician writer commandments?

Eran moitos os puntos tocados no decálogo de Harkaitz Cano que teñen a ver coa realidade actual da escritora e do escritor galegos.

En canto a que dous puntos sinalaría eu para comezarmos construír ese decálogo, diría os seguintes:

  1. A escritora, o escritor galegos son escritores en dobre xornada. Como a maior parte dos escritores do mundo deben compatibilizar a súa xornada literaria (calquera que esta sexa, diaria, sistemática, discontinua, ocasional) co desenvolvemento da súa actividade profesional. Isto, que por un lado limita a capacidade de produción literaria en tanto en canto a escritora non pode botar man de todas as horas que precisa para crear a obra que desexa, podemos considerar que enriquece esa obra ao fornecerlle á escritora e ao escritor dnha experiencia literaturizábel e darlle a liberdade de non se ver sometido á presión de depender economicamente de que o que escribe sexa aceptado ou non, cando se ofrece para ser publicado. Mais a contrapartida é que esta situación non é unha opción, senón a única posíbel. Mais este xa é outro tema.
  2. Galegas e galegos que escribimos sentimos ante o papel en branco unha dobre responsabilidade: a de crear unha obra literaria que sexa atractiva para a lectora e o lector, pois iso é a literatura á fin e ao cabo, e a través dela seguir construíndo a casa nosa do idioma, facéndoa a cada pouco máis grande para acoller nela a novos falantes que prendan na lingua a través das palabras que enfiamos, mentres mantemos con nós a todos e todas os que xa a levan canda si.

Many of the items in Harkaitz Cano’s commandments are related to the Galician writers’ current reality.

As for the points to start those commandments, I would underline the following:

  1. Galician writers have two full-time jobs. Like the majority of writers in the world they must juggle their literary work (however often this work might be done: daily, sistematically, discontinually, ocasionally) with the development of their professional activity. This, which on the one hand limits the literary production, since the writer can devote as many hours as he or she needs to create the work he or she wants, also enriches the work, as it offers the writer a literalisable experience and gives he or she the freedom of not being subdued to the pressure of financially depending on whether what they write is accepted or not when it is published. The problem is that this situation is not one of several options, but the only one possible. This is, however, a different story.
  2. We, Galician people who write, feel before the blank paper a double responsibility: that of creating a literary work attractive for the reader, as this is literature at the end of the day; and, through it, continue the construction of our language home, expanding it in order to embrace other speakers who might become attached to the language through the words we thread, while we keep with us all the readers who already have it with them.

Por último, como xa sabes, en Cork temos alumnos que están comezando a estudar galego, así que estamos a facer unha colección das palabras galegas máis queridas dos nosos visitantes. Cóntasnos as túas?

To finish, as you are aware, some of our students in Cork are starting to study Galician, so we are collecting our visitors’ most loved Galician words. Would you like to talk about yours?

Esta é verdadeiramente unha pregunta difícil. Escoller as palabras que me sexan máis queridas. Poderían ser tantas! Por exemplo: poexo, digo o nome da planta e a miña mente reproduce o verde das súas follas e case son quen de sentir o seu sabor. Tormentelo, unha palabra estraña, propia da miña zona, aínda máis aromática có normativo tomiño. Hucha ou artesa, por seren obxectos gardadores da memoria. Patela, porque estivo nas mans das miñas avós día tras día. Alestir, outra rareza lingüística que nos fala do oficio das mulleres do mar, reparando palangres. Sanguiño, que caladamente nos informa de onde procede quen pronuncia a palabra, se aínda conserva o son antigo da sibilante, se fala con gheada. Poalla, que é o mesmo ca orballo, mais que poucas persoas usamos. E así podería seguir dicindo: esquío, carballo, fenta, morote, patín, pedra, valgada, fervenza, regato, lareira, arume ou mar.

This is a really difficult question. Choosing the words that I most love. There could be so many! For example: poexo, I say the name of the plant and my mind reproduces the green of its leaves and I am almost able to taste it. Tormentelo, a strange word, typical from my area, even more aromatic than the normative tomiño. Hucha ou artesa, because they are objects through which memory is preserved. Patela, because it was in the hands of my grandparents day after day. Alestir, another lingüistic anomaly who speaks about the trade of the women of the sea, repairing fishing long lines. Sanguiño, who subtly informs where the person pronouncing the word comes from, if they preserve the ancient song of the sibilant, if they speak with gheada. Poalla, the same as orballo, but used by very few people. And I could continue: esquío, carballo, fenta, morote, patín, pedra, valgada, fervenza, regato, lareira, arume or mar.

Marta Dacosta, novembro de 2014.

Entrevista e tradución de Laura Linares.

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