Joan Margarit, born in 1938 in the inland Catalan region of Segarra, where his parents moved at the outbreak of the Spanish Civil War, was the winner of Spain’s 2008 National Poetry Prizewinner.
Looking for the biography of a poet in their poems is always a lie. To write a poem is a very complicated matter. The poem starts to take form from your mouth, your eye, but what it evolves into is very distant from what the poem began as. Biography is not something you should look for in poems.
Listen, I need a life to write poems, and by life I mean to say an emotional life, a family life, a professional life, an economic life. How am I going to write about life if I have never had economic problems? How am I going to write about life if I have never loved a woman, or been left by a woman, or suffered because of a woman? How am I going to write about life if I don’t know what it is like to have a child?
People say, “How unusual that you are a structural engineer.” To be a poet is not a profession, it’s a way of living. There are people who like to hunt, but they are not professional hunters. What do you mean when you say that you are a hunter? Imagine that he is a carpenter and goes to a house to fix some windows and to get to this house he crosses the woods. If he is a hunter, when he crosses the woods he looks, smells, sees the birds and knows when the partridges make their nests. Even if he goes to fix a window, he is a hunter, but if you ask him about his profession, he will tell you that he is a carpenter, not a hunter.
Math is the most exact of the sciences, and poetry is the most exact of the literatures. What they have in common is that they require concision. Calculating a structure is managing to use the minimum material to achieve the maximum resistance. If this pillar could be thinner, it would be better. A poem is the same.
In a structure you cannot have anything extra. If we removed that bar and nothing happened, it is a bad structure. You should not be able to take anything away or add anything else, just like a poem. A poem should not have anything extra or anything missing.
Poetry translation can only be done by another poet. You can see immediately if a translation is done by a professor, it doesn’t work. Because clearly, the professor translated what was said in the poem, but he has not made another poem, you have to create another poem. Another language, another poem.