We are privileged to have an extensive interview of the contemporary Argentine poet Gladys Cepeda, editor of numerous literary magazines like 'LAK-BERNA', 'El Septyimo Cielo En Los Ojos' and poet in numerous anthologies of poems like 'Poetas de Avellaneda', 'La vuelta al mundo en un poema' etc.
Mainak: When did you start writing? Have you started with poetry or short story ?
Gladys : At first, I want to thank you for this opportunity to express my words.
It is difficult to answer because I always linked with the literature, so much across the books since in my house there was a big library and they ( my family members) read me up until I started reading on my own pretty soon, my mother, ,for making me sleep, also told me the stories where she always added new elements and I noticed that a situation could create multiple situations and then I started creating my own stories which I used to read first of all to my mother, my grandparents and then to my father who passed away unfortunately when I was very very young but he left for me some of his poems as a great heritage.
At home there were many books to all disciplines of art, philosophy, history in general and especially literature, both my grandparents and my father wrote, and published in newspapers and literary magazines, hw also debated on all these issues and also about politics. Moreover, I am a part of the family of the Spanish poet Panero (very famous there) through my father's side. I started writing short stories, prose and sketched some lost poems ,then I came much closer to poetry through various searched readings, lyrics of songs, and then with various literary workshops which I attended, I began to explore the breadth of the language with all possible genres, prose poetry, drama, lyrics of songs, essays, comics, scripts and novel among new ones I like to discover.
Mainak: What led you to the world of writing? Any incident or politics or society or encouragement of inner passion?
Gladys: I think that I told it already: there are many factors - imagination, reading, quest, oratory, observation, fascination for this mysterious world and magic of language and it is born like an irrepressible impulse, the dreams, the respect for those authors who gave us so many things, who surprised us, who gave us ideas, who brought us to incredible worlds like a great voyage ( I was always a big dreamer) also did us get to know cultures, problems of the people, their culture etc., who stopped us to discover wonderful hidden things, who generate us uncertainty, tension, surprise, sadness, fun and thousands of strange feelings and senses which we would not know how to name and we might not to invent a name, also worries about the world, issues such as social, religious, political, all generated me eager to discover and try to understand, I also started looking for other interests such as science, because I felt curious to the necessity of finding out everything, I was fascinated with the knowledge, wisdom, and multiple looks and freedom of interpretation, meaning or reading which can generate us.
Mainak: What did you motivate the most to write? Is there any writer whose writing inspires you for writing ?
Gladys: As I have told you, I'm an 'omnivorous' reader, I'm interested in and I like to read everything, the list of authors is endless and there are thousands of authors I love to discover continuously and I have approached each of them through their style, forms etc. to enrich my quest in my literature too but not copying them or trying to seem, experiencing various forms, dabbling in all styles and possible genres as challenges also to explore the inner and outer world and confrontation, integration, as the surrealistic told, reaching childbearing situations in antithetical ways to disintegrate or to generate new things, mostly from the chaos of inspiration as an act of rebellion against many things.
Mainak: The elements in your poems.
Gladys: The elements are thousands--- I think when we write, thousands of things and problems are revealed in our creative process, sometimes we solve them when we write or try to go clarifying or darkening and then it is intensified when corrected and that is when the text concludes, but can appear before each rereading, and other opportunities are readers who appreciate, find or perceive, at each time of my writing I was incorporating many elements which nourished and enriched texts, in other opportunities purely literary or non-literature, but as I said, the poet Marechal plotted a very subtle thread that was joining them , antithetical elements that generated interesting results.
Mainak: Thematic and linguistic evolution in Argentina literature during past 3 decades. Which is the turning point for this development? Some social revolution, war, globalization?
Gladys: I will try to summarize it as the history is complex and vast. Argentine literature always was transformed by numerous processes and changes which have given a special shape, by region, by fashion, by interests, where sometimes social or political changes have affected but not forms of writers, here a situation is always generated where on one side we find, since the beginnings of our literature the subject-matters of the author is located in the urban and the rural through European formation that generally was in the capital and the people of Buenos Aires are called 'porteño' as the city is related to a port, that struggles for independence , clashes with Spain expressed in its literature since they take the idea of the French Revolution, many authors take these issues and express it in their texts, not only in just poetry but also in the theatre, Chronicles and a strong enough genre of letters. There, people also started the first literary and arts' cafés where many of these things also has been conceived like planning the separation of the Hispanic tradition, turning towards the English cultures, French or German encyclopedic, usually by upper-class people, which also followed some authors of the other provinces of our country. It happened during the 18th century. While in the working classes ,the rural or poorer class is the gaucho (descendant of the mixture between Indian native peoples and the Spanish or black brought by the conquistadors, who both have to do with our independence, often illiterate but with a inborn wisdom of their traditions and the richness of their origins with legends, it is called the folklore that since the song with a huge number of variations by region, the improvised recitative called Payada sing their feelings, landscapes, loneliness, freedom or fun from the songs from local customs, but always with a lot of depth. Then the upper classes, many owners of large farms travelled to Europe and was educated there, they pose this new reality of a country where leaders or warlords who claim their own or national culture of our traditions but accuse many writers and intellectuals as traitors, expelling them here. This starts an internal struggle that lasts for long time, those writers adhere to the European culture and romanticism but they also adapted our style and the exiled writers wrote in addition to stories or novels, lots of history and daily chronicles about these events and also on travel. This continued till the late 19th and early 20th century, where these divisions l emerged lot of literature which talked about these confrontations, from love, war and problems in the economy, education in the form of stories, novels, chronicles, there are few cases which touch other forms too like science fiction etc. The women also began slightly to dabble in literature discussing these issues. And in the 20th century many writers began to take other issues, through the influence of modernism they adhere to it and also the symbolism, they formed groups where they discussed on the literature and written short stories, novels, poetry, trying to break with the old literary traditions to some authors, although the Uruguayan are called Rioplatenses and they can be considered very close to the Argentines, and emerging from these topics they encompassed more fantasy, terror, within an exotic landscape. Some other writers took elements of the emergence of the arrival of immigrants arriving from Europe. To lytic, the urban customs, the future changes which established the city, the continuing clashes from humor to drama in the working classes, and the marginalized a language of their own called Creole, in contrast to the upper class who took more influence in European literature especially the French, and English with a strong influence of romanticism , in the rest of the country the problem was purely rural about injustices, heartbreaks, rootlessness and it gave rise to many forms of writing (thinking that in those days most of the people were not only illiterate but also conveyed their knowledge of songs ( from Payada up to the Milonga) where the knowledge based on tradition and orality was transmitted, even in packages of 'yerba mate' (the most consumed national drink here) and where people also witnessed clashes between the two regions, Buenos Aires facing the rest of the country in internal, fratricidal struggles for many years. And that is also reflected in our literature from the 20th century. This emerged the strongest characteristics and we began to see a difference between the capital which took up part of their Hispanic heritage and the rest of Europe, especially England, France and Italy little less and also with the arrival of immigration of various people who were escaping from the problems in Europe which gave birth to a new type called the compadrito who imposes a language called 'lunfardo' taken from the influences of the immigrants mixed with the regional culture and music, Milonga and Tango through poetry and Comedy Theatre which is generally seen in circuses, literature began to reflect these issues of cultural changes generating not only a shock but also an enrichment of the new types, at that time several groups which tried to reflect their interests and concerns and dissemination of new authors, I will only say some (The Consistory of the Gay Saber, Martin Fierro, Florida and Boedo etc.) which were the foundational groups which came later. In the case of Florida and Boedo, two streets of Buenos Aires clashes, the problem of aesthetic in literature arouse, as it had been happened before, literature with more influence by leftist ideas, social problems and anarchists influenced by Spanish, Italian, Russian authors also were called cursed confronted to a literature in search of the aesthetic , French, English, German, another issue that framed the arrival of modernism in our literature, and ultraism approached to other vanguards such as Futurism, Dadaism and surrealism, expressionism etc. In the rest of the country, voices arose on the one hand showing a naturalism in its aesthetic mixed with the problems of social injustice, moral problems and on the other hand, the others started searching for the Christian faith mixed with Paganism. Subsequently a magazine called Sur came publishing, on that time, important means which boasted the best collaborators and it generated a current promoter of the arrival of many authors (Tagore, Sartre, Ortega Gasset, Ionesco (the list is long), other writers who were then truly important, others where were impossible to read due to lack of translation or were at the forefront in the dissemination of the new coming world. During the Spanish Civil War, many Spanish intellectuals and artists came here and then founded many publishing houses, magazines and the achievement came into forefront. In the decades of 40s and 50s, many new groups were influenced by the existentialists, the Lost Generation and the Beats' writers of USA. The absurd and psychoanalysis as the movement of concrete invention also took the cursed French poets, the vanguards of all time, the avant-garde of all times ,this was also filmed on many authors whose novels were used as scripts, 'Poesia Buenos Aires ' magazine and on the outskirts of Buenos Aires, many began to form groups both from literature and other arts showing the proletarian world, the squalid landscape and also themes like friendship, neighborhood, feelings, showing issues inside the magazine 'Vuelo' brought writers from all provinces, many of them were related to folklore group 'La Carpa' and others were generating a form which mate modernity and lyricism with the landscaper. As once politics divided the country into two groups and Peronism and the opposition, many writers joined him and others had to exile the country, generating an important cultural vacuum, although many writers also chose other side of literature pointed toward social and popular customs and national culture emphasizing above all things. A constant back and forth between democratic governments and military coups also generated a contrast in the literature during the democratic government, there was freedom and the word was experienced to exceed ends and authors expressed issues which generated gender conflicts, religion, institutions, structures breaking ways, directly and simultaneously complex, while in authoritarian times everything was expressed with subtlety with a double message which tried to keep fighting in those times having its preponderance in detective novels and science fiction, and also having an official empty and superficial literature, besides death and exile of many writers. Many writers were being interested in Oriental literature and spirituality and others in pop art, with influences of Hipism bringing literature to unsuspected limits of experimentation, where all forms of arts and poets and writers performed arts theater or created laboratories, one of the main epicenters was the Institute Di Tela. Also there was a strong relationship with Latin America and growing interest in conducting almost a literature with common themes and expressions which reflect idiosyncrasies of geographies and cultures of the forgotten authors of black or indigenous origin with a form of symbol-laden baroque writing , and also with extremist movements like Dadaism and provocative collection in those times impulse the essay as a genre. A situation that marked was the bars as peace or the cave where the Bohemian lifestyle was achieving that the authors were joining and debating or creating literature in those days, we can speak of many groups and magazines but Re as The Gold Bug. At that time, a movement began which also had to do with these revolutionary changes in culture and expressed girders young authors, we began to sing the rock here in Argentina in Spanish rather than in Spain for example there many of these composers as well as great readers brought a lot of poetry in their music and the film also began to generate a change in cultural habits and lead many storytellers and poets to make film as writers or sometimes inspiring scripts and also adapting authors and you can see that a lot in the kind of numerous written narrative which began to relate to each other leaving for Europe, USA, East to learn about all the new experience of the art , others began to relate more with the Latin American cause and her regional literature and it was called the Latin American boom.
After that, one of the most violent dictatorships of all time came and we witnessed disappearances and deaths of many writers and exile, burning books, censorship and other atrocities, which might begin to write an underground literature or many populated metaphors of symbolism counting on this. With the return of democracy, many authors came back and tried to retake the void that was left and much of the literature shows that feeling between pain and hope, others tried to interact more with everything new they learned from the outside and many groups were created to read poetry everywhere starting-called literary cafes, where collective experiences of poetry were made with other arts and through self-generated projects they were also trying to generate their own magazines, or taking magazines and fanzines (many) follow several streams but trendsetter one was Neo-baroque O baroque Neo and it was mixed also with bands -Punk or dark in the style artist Andy Warhol in basements or small places or as the old Brown concert of the 60s, one very famous site was Parakultural.
In the 90s, many of these activities had been increased and many institutions emerged literature, opposing the S.A.D.E , Argentina Society of Writers and many writers criticized this crisis for being restrictive and elitist, it strongly committed social literature with the problems caused by post-modernism sometimes mixing it with an extremist literature or burst as it was called here on one hand and on the other hand, others write a type of more personal and intimate literature, with subtle images and the other groups called Paralengua work with language mixing audiovisual rescuing the anti-poetry and Vanguards of different epochs. In the new century, many groups were institutionalized and another company of writers 'LA SEA' tried to find alternatives such as subsidy for the writers and also began to organize big poetry festivals and other groups on novel, short stories etc. There was also a fight between elitist and closed attitude of the international book fair, creating groups, literary fairs or cooperatives as a way of rebelling against the elites of literature, they have long boom-- literary workshops which already came from the 80s but they begin to operate in many places, along with the experience of the multiple cultural centers which accommodate all these concerns then other institutions try to do activities in non-traditional areas such as hospitals, prisons, marginalized schools, soup kitchens and everywhere possible experiences that had been made before interrupted by several factors, also they reappear under radios transmitting art and alternative culture where the same poets or artists are those that produce them. And a kind of more eclectic literature came forefront with a mixture of styles and times, reaching new times with the advent of technology where many writers begin to look for alternative ways with both the computer and cell phone to write increasingly limited texts. And others take more personal and descriptive positions or carry great stories to form poetic speeches where they mix journalistic formats with new styles and go beyond the traditional idea and writing becomes more immediate, but others still hold more classical styles and formats, the rise of science fiction, psychological and historical novel, also more academic essay and cartoon has been started, in poetry they work with more direct and narrative or subtle and impersonal voices, the relationship with the audiovisual media writing is too increasing, poetry also relates to the poetry of Rap music.
... To be continued