September 14, 2014
Olvido García Valdés
Olvido García Valdés [Spain]
On December 2, 1950 Spanish poet Olvido García Valdés was born in Santianes de Pravia, in Asturias, Spain.
García Valdés was educated at the University of Oviedo, where she received a degree in Philosophy, and at the University of Vallodolid, where she studied Romance Philology. Today she is a professor of Literature and Spanish at the Instituto El Greco in Toledo, Spain and at Sant Em de Sant Feliu de Guíols.
She also was director of the Cervantes Institute in Toulouse, France, a position she resigned in 2008. She is co-director of the poetry review, Los Infolios, and is on the editorial board for El signo de gorrión, which she co-founded.
Her poetry began with three verse collections in the later 1980s and early 1990s: El tercer jardin (1986, The third garden), Exposiciíon (1990, Night hung, which won the Icarus Prize for Literature), and Ella, los pájaros (1994, Her, birds, which won the Premio Leonor de Poesía).
The publication of Caza nocturna (1997) comprised what she and her critics have described as the “second stage” of her career, while her most recent books, Del ojo al hueso (2001, From the eye to the bone), Y todos estábamos vivos (2006, And we are still alive), and El mundo es un jardín (2010) representing her so-called “third stage”—works which are focused on a perception of death.
Her collected poems, Poesía reunida (1982-2008) was published in 2010.
Generally, her work has been characterized as being made up of “juxtapositions of fractured verbal asceticism with the sustained lyrical line.”
She has also translated several writers into Spanish, including Pier Paolo Pasolini, Anna Akhmatova, and Marina Tsvetaeva. She is also the author of a biographical essay, Teresa de Jesús (2001) and several art essays.
García Valdés’ poetry appears in several major Spanish anthologies and has been translated into several languages. In 2007 the poet was awarded the prestigious National Poetry Prize.
She is married to the poet Miguel Casado.
BOOKS OF POETRY
El tercer jardin (Valladolid: Editorial del Faro, 1986); Exposición (Ferrol: Esquío, 1990); Ella, los páros (Soria: Diputación, 1994); Mimosa de febrero (1994); Caza nocturna (Madrid: Ave del Paríso, 1997); Si un cuervo trajero (2000); Del ojo al hueso (Madrid: Ave del Paraíso, 2001); La poesía, ese cuerpo extraño (Madrid: Ediciones de la Universidad de Oviedo, 2005); Y todos estábamos vivos (Barceolona: Tusquets, 2006); Esa polilla que delante de mí revolotea (Galazía Gutenberg: Círculo de Lextores, 2008); El mundo es un jardín (Madrid: Círculo de Bellas Artes, 2010); Poesía reunida (1982-2008) (2010); Lo solo del animal (Barcelona: Tusquets, 2012)
ENGLISH LANGUAGE TRANSLATIONS
Selection in Panic Cure: Poetry from Spain for the 21st Century (Forest Gander, trans.) (Los Angeles: Otis Books/Seismicity Editions, 2014)
That misery seems to have been only a face
of our happiness. Bliss
doesn’t rise but falls
like softest rain. Remember
that Saturday in February
so like this one in November.
Close your eyes. Wear yourself out
climbing on, you without your voice,
carrying that notebook in which you write
things you’d like to say.
The non-materiality of words
blasts us with heat and surprise, a hand
squeezing a shoulder,
warm breath on a sweater.
To the parched, a jug of water,
the eyes of wolves
to see. Context
is everything, cold
transparent air. Something like this:
sitting on the ground, in semicircles,
learning to read at winter’s end,
when work is done, they’re discussing
a photograph, they’re
wrapped up warmly; or a boy
beaten to a pulp,
who time leaves behind,
who is restored, like some old photograph.
Three moths, at the lamp’s light,
enter the glass.
—Translated from the Spanish by Forest Gander
(from El tercer jardin, 1986)
English language translations copyright ©2014 by Forest Gander. Reprinted by permission of Otis Books/Seismicity Editions.
For other translations of poetry, go here: