The poetic chronicle of David Castillo

It has been more than twelve years since David Castillo (Barcelona, ​​1960) has published a new book of poems, although two years ago he presented the anthology L'amor com a pena capital (Pagès Editors), which already incorporated some of the new poems by Camp pervers (Proa), which as he himself explains is already a kind of anthology of the poems he wrote between 2007 and 2023: “I had three books written and in the end I merged them.

Oliver Thansan
Oliver Thansan
12 May 2024 Sunday 17:15
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The poetic chronicle of David Castillo

It has been more than twelve years since David Castillo (Barcelona, ​​1960) has published a new book of poems, although two years ago he presented the anthology L'amor com a pena capital (Pagès Editors), which already incorporated some of the new poems by Camp pervers (Proa), which as he himself explains is already a kind of anthology of the poems he wrote between 2007 and 2023: “I had three books written and in the end I merged them.”

He considers it his best book: “Although it is a cliché, I am very convinced. Maybe I should have used the scissors more, but there came a time when it seemed to me that trimming more would mean ruining it. There are poems that are the best I have written.” Without breaks, but very hard, selecting with the editor Josep Lluch and “a luxury team, Melcion Mateu and Andreu Gomila, who know a lot.”

Much of it is his usual themes, with “many poems about travel and also about revelation, about sleeping, disorderly, and having visions, a bit in the style of J.V. Foix, or like classical Greek poets who used the same system of forgetting and memory, which is where the book moves. The title, however, refers to the perverse field, “where they buried the vestals alive, they filled the hole with food so that death would be slow; it is awful. It has to do with how you feel when you see that you are left a little on the side, although I have never abandoned the track.” “I no longer count as I had when I won awards like the Carles Riba, the Crexells, the Sant Jordi... You simply get further away. Now you see that a guy who sells ten times less than you seems to be a priority, writers who often have nothing to explain nor know what they are talking about. The feeling is often that I am out of circulation, that I do not exist.”

He does not deny himself from saying what he thinks or what he sees, with poems close to the chronicle, which is what he likes most about journalism: “What I don't like is giving my opinion and putting myself first, if I am a communist, or Catholic, or Hebrew or Libertarian. All of this bores me deeply. When you enter subway lines with only one way... How come there aren't two directions? All of that catches my attention a lot. Or you go to a bar, in whatever neighborhood, and the Chinese are there, because they are the ones who are willing to sacrifice themselves, and those from here are not.” He mixes genres and creates literature that survives day to day: “Journalism has always been written to last one day, and you would find the articles on the floor later. It is literature, but not everything is.” In any case, how he writes in the book: “... the poetry / neix of historical life.”

Theirs continues to be a world between high and popular culture, it is as easy to find mentions of Pavese, Shelley, Leopardi or Thomas Mann as it is of Billy Idol, Enrico Rava or Paul Newman, it evokes both imperial and Christian Rome or the neighborhoods of metropolitan Barcelona as he talks about sex, with a “hunter's look, but I don't realize it. Simply, when I am with the poem, they are very sincere. There is a slightly politically incorrect view, but it is my view, which has never been an alpha male, but a beta male, even though I only believe in monogamy.”

He also talks about drugs, often linked to the counterculture, as he writes: "Five minutes later, / with heroin came democracy". "The witches also come out, everything that was moving at that time and that I miss. I don't believe in it, but I used to, and sometimes I do white magic".

In this life there are also the dead who have left him, starting with his mother, in the first poem: “I felt as if I had died, as if a grand piano had fallen on me, I felt deeply hurt. With the mother there is like an umbilical cord, at least in my case. And you look for it a little in the women you meet, the return to the womb that Henry Miller talks about. He wrote that poem alone, and now he was trying to develop it further into a prose book, but they are memories that hurt you and are difficult to write well.

There are also other recent deaths such as those of Víctor Nubla, Carles Garcia Mill, Pere Marcilla, Pau Malvido, Genís Cano, Xavier Sabater or his Italian translator, Giovanni Nadiani, “very close and very charismatic people, to the extent that some Today they are important, they did not stand out at all.”

He is an old cat, and he still writes, and he walks every day and visits second-hand bookstores, and he takes the recited poetry to high schools with Josep Pedrals and Gonzalo Escarpa, and he is clear about some things. Or how he closes one of the poems: “D’ una puta merda em penadiré, / us ho dic sincerament.”

Catalan version, here