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.


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)


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:

Tibetan farmers

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.

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