Poetry can be current, modern, comprehensible and profound at the same time: a distinguished witness of it is poetess and professor Carmen Gonzalez Huguet, recently awarded the 37th Fernando Rielo World Prize of Mystical Poetry, for her collection of ninety sonnets “El Alma Herida”[“The Wounded Soul”]. In an interview with ZENIT, the Salvadorian artist talked about her passion for sonnets, her faith, her life and the situation in El Salvador.
ZENIT: On December 11, 2017, you were awarded the 37th Fernando Rielo World Prize of Mystical Poetry in the Embassy of Spain to the Holy See. Is it your first stay in Rome?
Carmen Gonzalez: Yes, it’s my first time in Rome. The city is very beautiful. I was very impressed by St. Peter’s Basilica, by St. Peter’s Square, and I can’t wait to visit the Vatican Museums.
ZENIT: Does faith have an important role in your life and in your work?
Carmen Gonzalez: Absolutely. I grew up in a believing and practicing Catholic family. I was educated according to Christian values. This education influenced my life and work very much. Since I began writing, I chose poetry, or better mystical poetry, the dialogue with God; I’m passionate, in particular, about the sonnet.
ZENIT: How did you ever choose such a traditional form?
Carmen Gonzalez: The sonnet is a great tradition in El Salvador, my country of origin. I wanted to follow the tradition of this form because it enables me to express myself in a synthetic and brief way.
ZENIT: The jury described your work as technically perfect and at the same time very modern. How is it possible to respect the traditional form and to render sonnets a contemporary work?
Carmen Gonzalez: The traditional form of the sonnet doesn’t impede using modern and contemporary language. In fact, it’s very important for me that poetry be comprehensible to all; therefore, I always choose a clear and simple language. Before writing I read the Sacred Scriptures, then I meditate on the passage or the Psalm read, I decide on the leitmotiv and finally, I begin to write. Born thus were the ninety sonnets in the book “The Wounded Soul.”
ZENIT: Not only is your comprehensible language striking, but also the detailed description of a state of mind. Is the description of anxiety, of solitude and of other upsets based on autobiographical experiences?
Carmen Gonzalez: At night I suffer from insomnia so I start to write. In my sonnets I describe not only my preoccupations, but I also refer to the very difficult situation in El Salvador. The population has to face great problems, violence and overcome the wounds caused by twelve years of civil war.
ZENIT: The jury noted the message of hope, faith and joy in your sonnets. Are your sonnets an instrument of comfort and consolation?
Carmen Gonzalez: Each one of us is in need of comfort and consolation in difficult moments of loneliness, of depression or of sadness. However, we must always keep present the fact that we are never abandoned because the Lord’s love is infinite and unconditional. He is always with us. It’s we who often don’t have sufficient confidence in ourselves. Precisely this, the Lord’s infinite love and hope, are the principal message of my poems.
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To illustrate better Carmen Gonzalez Huguet’s work, here is a translation of one of her sonnets included in the collection “The Wounded Soul.”
What solitude is yours if you are asleep.
What dreadful silence in the night.
I peer into the mysterious abyss
Where there is no light, or name, or sound.
And I don’t find you, God, but in my ear
You name and call me, silently,
And in all your creatures,
I hear, melodious, the song of your born love.
Lift me from the depth of failure.
Go with me in the mist of people
Until the sad hour of sunset.
Take me, river, from your dark source
To rest with you, step by step, sweetly,
Wait for me on the shore of the afternoon,
Divine Love, in this blind appointment.
The rain enveloped in fine mist comes
And hides in the absence of the cowardly sun.
Don’t ask me, Friend, to wait for you
Under this sky that overwhelms my body.
Does the fire of surrender dilute, perchance,
He who burns in the center of the fire?
I wait for you here, Lord,
I always wait for you.
But how long you take. The emotion of wounded love
captivates my poor heart.
The years go by. I die from waiting.
Take me now, Lord, up with you,
And receive me in your promised heaven.
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Carmen Gonzalez Huguet was born on November 15, 1958 in San Salvador. She received her degree in Literature and is Professor at the “Jose Matias Delgado” University. In addition to eight poetry collections, the winner of many prizes has also published numerous narrative works. Moreover, she was Directress of “Publications and Prints,” <in the> cultural publishing house of the State of El Salvador, and Directress of the “Culture” review. From 1997 to 1999 she was a researcher at the “David Joaquin Guzman” National Museum of Anthropology. Since 2012, the Salvadorian and Spanish citizen has been a member of the Salvadorian Academy of Language and correspondent of the Royal Academy of Spain.
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Part II of the interview will be published tomorrow