Interviews on “poetry & refugees” – 2 – Diana Vallejo
Diana Vallejo was born in Honduras in 1969. She moved to Europe.
Lyrikline Blog (LB): In your view, is it the task of a poet also to be a chronicler or witness of his/her time?
Diana Vallejo (DV): The poetry itself is a result of what you think, your reflections, your deep beliefs and fears, what you feel, those desires or hopes that we have. In certain social conditions this deep view of our humanity will have a certain line and shape, a map of what we are living or knowing about our surroundings, even the geography will be an influence in that poem. For me the written poem is the last result of our vulnerability like a human being. In my case it is not a task, but it is inevitable that I show or tell that special place or chronicle that lives through me again, so the action of publishing a poem in the paper converts me to some kind of witness of any field. For example I can say that I witness a person, or a bird or a country, the space, or the life, so yes it can be a task, but is not an obligation, you decide that. To write or not to write is very similar to … to be or not to be.
LB: What impact on society or politics can a poem have? Do oppressive regimes have to fear poetry?
DV: Fear? I don’t think so, because they don’t care about human life and they really don’t understand the content of humanity. But shame, yes, they feel shame, but not that kind of shame that we wish, they felt just that their vanity is affected, they don’t want to see themselves in a poem, they dislike themselves, they don’t want to be questioned, to be confronted. Even killers read poetry, even if they don’t really feel it or involve in it, it is like reading with blind eyes.
But for the rest of the people under horrible and cruel regimes, a poem became that breath that we need to continue in our path, looking for the harmony, and sometimes, this energy that a poem gives to the people, is the most strange and incomprehensible situation for the oppressors, and they try to kill the poetry by killing the poet. But this is just a big mistake, because the poetry is a spirit that is free of the body when the body is killed, and is going to hunt, to remind those who kill the mortal body, that they are worthless, as is the case of García Lorca, Roque Dalton or Clementina Súarez.
LB: In your view, is there a relation between the power of the words of a poet and that of a dictator, since they both work with language?
DV: Both work with language, but the poet expresses the real meaning of the deceiving words of a dictator, the poet became some kind of special translator, that person who understands the real intentions of a selfish person.
A dictator is going to be a liar, even to himself, is going to destroy all thoughts that question him, his words are stones, are bullets, are cruelty, are vanity and ¨business of the fears¨. He can’t kill himself, he think he wins, because he earns money, he or she needs to be adulated, because their selfesteem does not exist, fatuous people. So that’s why they cause so much pain and hate. The dictator appeals to the vanity, and almost all of us are sick of vanity, so it is easy to get followers. The poetry appeals a lot of times to the humbleness, to the beauty of the spirit, a very deep and difficult state of ourselves.
LB: Is it possible to find or create a new kind of home or shelter in texts or in a new language?
DV: Of course, every language has a different perspective or definition of our meanings The phrase that every mind is a world, is true, so for me every language is a new Universe. When you explore a language, its sounds, its in-between feelings, or more or less developed concepts, you learn, and it will affect the way you behave in certain groups. Because you want to be accepted, or you want to communicate without misunderstandings.
Even in your own languages you have several roads of sensibilities, for example I learned to talk in the ¨tú¨ way mostly when I was in México, instead of my ¨vos¨, and even the tone of my voice caused me some trouble. I learn to use their ways, I even learn to modulate my voice in a lower scale of decibels, so yes, languages is an issue of study, and the poetry grows when you know and explore other fields of expressions like a new language, I have adopting new terms.
LB: Your poem “El otro poeta en el barco” deals with the “other poet” and his emotions. Does a poet in exile need exchange with and support of others who are in a similar situation?
DV: Yes, we need the hopes, the smile, the comprehension of others, just to deal with the pain and sorrows that we have, or just to initiate a wonderful friendship. My husband is a poet, my dad also, some of my friends are poets, or even no poets, but people who’s lives are leaving poems are the best to be around. You never get bored.
LB: Do you still feel a part of the literary scene of your home country?
DV: Yes I still have presence in my country and they include me in lectures, in some studies, in some organizations, even now that I am away, they use to publish me in anthologies, they include me in events, sometimes through the internet. My relationships with them are in many cases like family, we argue, we enjoy to be around, we agree or disagree, but above all, we love and respect each other.
LB: What’s your view on the poetic tradition of your country of origin?
DV: The poetic traditions in our country are as old as our existence, even the people that do not have access to the ¨books¨ can talk with you and show you and express the poetry that lives around you. I remember a comment of a mexican writer who interviewed a ¨mojado¨ – a person who seeks a better life outside the country and travels – in ¨LA BESTIA¨. This normal and common guy of our country said:
Over here the night looks more extensive.
He was referring to the mexican night, and I understood what he tried to express, we are used to this kind of conversation. And if you want to mention or know about our official poets, the list is immense and includes also the women’s voice, not just men. That´s why I mentioned one of my favoritesbefore, Clementina Súarez.
LB: What would you wish for future generations (of poets) in your country of origin?
Human Rights without selling our soul.
DV: Do you hope for or wish to go back to your country of origin one day?
Every day, I get out of Honduras, because we need help, but nobody even in this cruel occupation of the evil system of ambitions, unfair production, and marketing of the guns, even now, nobody wants to leave a place where the poetry is your land and your breath. In Honduras we used to have a phrase, the land of the no ending beginnings, but that just change.
Diana Vallejos poetry was published on lyrikline on World Poetry Day 2015.