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.
Here is a translation of Part II of the interview with Carmen Gonzalez Huguet. Part I of the interview was published on December 27, 2017.
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–Q: Is there a particular reason for your special sensibility to suffering?
–Carmen Gonzalez: Twelve years ago I was dead, and only after two hours of resuscitation did I come back to life. I reflected a lot on what happened and think there’s a reason for my survival. I had prepared myself to die; I suffered from a heart problem. There must be a reason why God let me come back to life.
–Q: Has this experience marked your way of living and working?
–Carmen Gonzalez: Yes, I realized that my time was limited. Therefore, following the motto “carpe diem” I try to live the present profoundly. In my family, friendly relations, in my affections and sentiments I don’t procrastinate, but express myself immediately and I commit myself to give always the utmost. The same is true for my work.
–Q: Are you not amazed that Cardinal Octavio Ruiz Arenas, Secretary of the Pontifical Council for Promoting the New Evangelization, so appreciated your work, described by the Cardinal himself an optimum instrument for evangelization? So, will your sonnets be published and diffused throughout the world?
–Carmen Gonzalez: In South America, the situation is difficult, marked by a grave crisis. There are few publishers and there is no network to promote publications. Only because I won the Prize will my sonnets be published in all Spanish-speaking countries. The Fernando Rielo World Prize of Mystical Poetry is very important for us writers because it gives a platform to promote mystical poetry and not only for established writers, but also for unknown poets and poetesses. Moreover, the Prize is not just accessible to Christians. The Prize is an important contribution to the Oecumene and to the inter-religious dialogue because art is a universal language and can act as a bridge between various cultures and religions.
–Q: Given the difficult situation in your country of origin, is faith important for the population?
–Carmen Gonzallez: Absolutely. Religion is a refuge for the population of El Salvador. Prayer becomes a cry of anguish. In El Salvador, the population is very religious and faith is a constituent element of its identity. The majority are Catholics; one-third of the population is Protestant.
–Q: What does El Salvador’s population think of Pope Francis?
–Carmen Gonzalez: Pope Francis is “one of us.” It’s very important for us to have a Pope of South American origin. We see Pope Francis as a person close to us, warm and very spirited. We appreciate so much his direct and strong way. One sees that he has a close relationship with God. Pope Francis makes each one of us feel important; he takes care of us like a father.
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To illustrate better Carmen Gonzalez Huguet’s work, we translate here one of the sonnets treated in the collection “The Wounded Soul.”
What solitude you have 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 you name and call me in my ear, silently,
And in all your creatures,
I hear the melodious song of born love.
Lift me from the depth of failure.
Come with me in the midst of the people
Until the sad hour of sunset.
Take me, river, from your dark source
To rest with you, step by step,
Sweetly, profoundly, passionately.
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.
Dilute perhaps the fire of the surrender
That which burns in the center of the fire?
I wait for you here, Lord, I always wait for you.
But how long you take. Emotion captivates
My poor heart of wounded love.
The years go by. I die of waiting.
Take me now, Lord, with you above,
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.
The other finalists of the 37th Fernando Rielo World Prize of Mystical Poetry, with 7,000 euros as a Prize, were Claudia Lorena Parada Turcios, compatriot of Carmen Gonzalez Huguet and finalist last year (San Salvador); Spaniards Antonio Bocanegra (Cadiz), Fernando Sanchez Mayo (Cordova) and Miguel Sanchez Robles (Murcia); Colombians Margarita Galindo Steffens (Barranquilla), Adela Guerrero Collazos (Cali) and Antonio Martin de las Mulas (Medellin); from Ecuador Eliana Cevallos Rojas; from the Dominican Republic Mikenia Vargas and from Argentina Leandro Calle (Cordoba, Argentina). The Jury was made up of Jesus Fernandez Hernandez (Spain), President of the Fernando Rielo Foundation; Jose Maria Lopez Savillano (Spain), literary critic and Permanent Secretary of the Prize; Loretta Frattale (Italy), Professor of Spanish Literature at the Tor Vergata University of Rome; Arnaldo Colasanti (Italy), poet and literary critic, and David G. Murray (USA), literary critic and philologist. Present also at the prize-giving was Cardinal Octavio Ruiz Arenas, Secretary of the Pontifical Council for Promoting the New Evangelization.
The Fernando Rielo World Prize remembers the founder of the Institute of Christ the Redeemer, <idente> men and women missionaries, Fernando Rielo Pardal. The Institute of Consecrated Life of pontifical right was founded on June 29, 1959, at Tenerife, in Spain. The Institute’s apostolate focuses on two fields: “dialogue with Intellectuals for the transmission and defense of revealed truth at the service and tutelage of Sacred Scripture, of the Tradition and of the Magisterium of the Church in the present-day world” and “the apostolate with young people that have lost the Catholic faith or never embraced it.”
The Fernando Rielo Foundation is committed in particular to Evangelization through culture, among other things through the World Prize of Mystical Poetry and the International Prize of Sacred Music, both entitled Fernando Rielo. The Fernando Rielo Publishing Foundation publishes not only Fernando Rielo’s philosophical work but also the minutes of the conferences held on arguments of philosophy, pedagogy, and literature.
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Translation by Virginia M. Forrester