He began to write to understand himself, to order himself from within, to try to make sense of all that gibberish of feelings that ran through him. He keeps doing it. Try to understand each other. He is 17 years old and still hasn't left adolescence behind. He says it himself, Manu Erena (Jaen 2005), a rare bird in the panorama of young people who enter the world of literature. He does it from poetry, a genre little explored by young people and in which, however, he has achieved notable success. His first book, Consequences of Saying I Love You (Penguin Random House) has already sold 30,000 copies. He now he has just released his third book, Even if you are afraid again, where he continues to display a genuine style. A book in which Erena advances steadily in maturity, with a poetic prose full of drama, desolation, love and hope.
"Writing is a therapy for me. An introspection within me, because many times I don't know what I feel, or I am afraid to talk about it with others; writing teaches me what is there, what is it that scares me, and it helps me order it. Stop and think," he says. Manu started writing very early. Phrases, notes, post-its, notes from you on his mobile... "I saw that he had a lot of material and as a result of the pandemic, which marked a turning point for me, I began to organize those messy letters to see what would come out of it all. I had no intention of making a book, just publishing on social networks, but I saw that he had a book divided into three parts," he says.
Getting hurt, finding yourself and healing, those are the three parts of the first book that this young poet self-published at the age of 15 on Amazon and that a video on TikTok made viral. "Would you read my book if I showed you the first paragraph?", he asked the digital congregation whose response was immediate: number 1 in sales on Amazon. From there to jumping to Peguin Random House was a step. Manu Erena published his first collection of poems in July 2021 by one of the country's major publishers. He was 16 years old and, as he says, "the rest is history."
Manu is currently in the second year of Artistic Baccalaureate at the José Nogué art school in Jaén. He is not sure that writing is his future profession. At the moment he is still a hobby, a great hobby, yes, but a hobby nonetheless. His great literary references are mostly confined to that digital field that has made him a poet with 55,000 copies sold today. Young writers like Joana Marcus or Rebeca Stones, or poets like José Ángel Gómez Iglesias, better known as Defreds, and who also jumped to paper from social networks or the writer Bebi Fernandez, also known by the digital congregation as Señorita Bebi... "I saw that it was very current poetry, that it did not focus so much on the rhymes as on the message they wanted to convey. The way they write, the themes they deal with... I was entering adolescence when I discovered them and saw that someone was thinking the same thing as me, with feelings that I didn't know how to explain or what to do with them".
In Even if you are afraid again, the rhythm is still agile and love, loss and loneliness are the central axes. "I try to reflect all the emotions of adolescence, that stage in which we can't even stand ourselves; asking for forgiveness for not knowing what we have or what we are capable of giving. I want to reflect the current adolescence. We have had many changes in a short time: social networks, pandemic, facing situations that were not present before and also putting on record that we have to help each other a little because it is something new that can cause a lot of insecurity and new fears".
New poetry for a new adolescence? Each generation looks for its way of explaining itself and Manu Erena is a voice of today where freedom of expression reigns and everything can be said, or should be. Where, according to the young poet, "you love yourself in a different way than your parents loved" but where you notice an important deficiency: "Emotional intelligence is what we have the worst. It is not taught in schools or in institutes. We can talk about history or syntax, but when it comes to explaining how we feel or reflecting on the things that happen to us, we don't know. It shouldn't be like that. If we can identify that we have a toothache, we should also be able to identify feelings". Manu Erena has found the way to identify his own and deal with them. He now he goes into pause mode. He wants to enjoy it.