Who I Am and Why I Write ...
A poet who has taken his inspiration from traditional sources, Enric Casassas blends elements of folklore and present-day pop culture in his work (with clear sympathies for the underground and counterculture movements). His poetry reveals very heterogeneous influences (from medieval, Renaissance, Baroque through to avant-garde poetry), while experimenting with new forms or satirically reworking traditional genres.
Catalan poet, rapsode, essayist and translator. National Literature Prize 2012
This is a two-edged question: who am I and why do I write? The answer is easy. I write because I don't know who I am. Groping in the dark I find another two-edged question: what am I and because of whom do I write? It doesn't ask for whom but because of whom, which is like asking whose fault it is but, as we shall see below, the because-of-whom and the for-whom have the same answer in this case. Let's get to the point: what am I? I am something that is left of the soul of the old miller's wife, which on her death remained stuck as a tatter on an oleander twig, that scrap of white cloth, which, borne by the wind, blew into my face to blind me just as I went by on that crock of a motorbike that young Espinac had lent me and at first I was about to skid on the dirt track in the bare hills and then I was about to set the bike aright again and in the end I did indeed skid and gave myself a hell of a whack that didn't turn out to be anything either but nobody can ever get that fright out of me and that's why I write. The one who was most upset was Espinac because I don't know how or why but he loved that old wreck of a bike as if it was a little nanny-goat that would come running when it was called to be milked and, trying to avoid meeting up with him because he was looking right through me, I started staying at home and devoted myself to exploring the bare hills of writing, though not as a way of amusing myself but as an inquiry into ignorance because I am the wolf-man who leaps every time something unknown comes within reach of his claws. I am the goal-man on weekdays when he's not playing football, who gets strange ideas with magnetic forces that send the ball out: always the same damned nightmare. Alone in front of the goal, I kick straight and, just when it's about to go in, the ball goes off at a right angle into the high grass of the wide path, at least, or off to the chemist shop ? and, okay, so off we go to get it. I am the micro-psychologist who, if you get an attack of madness in a millionth of a second, fixes it up before it's over and you can spend the rest of the millionth of a second thinking calmly about shrews, which is one of the forms of mental health that are still permitted. I am the stranger who goes along the street when everyone knows each other, or it seems to him that they all know each other, everyone except for him. I am the parrot that they always have on the balcony opening out onto the little square below and it's called Darwin (the parrot I mean). I am the foreign goatherd who takes the country's goats out to pasture and who longingly confides in them. And what if I am the only stone that by some chance will survive this civilisation? And if I am the left eyebrow of the esparto-eyebrowed man, the sandwich man of Rodoreda's war?
To sum up, I am one of those who are lost in a sea of chestnuts, one of the lost and that's it, and since the lost are perhaps the only ones who have the slightest notion of what this festival of stars among the branches is all about, we write about it for those who know where they are because we are generous and when we have doubts we like to share them. In order to write these things we make ourselves very small. First I make myself very small and then, without wanting to, I almost always remember that Espinac boy and then I think about a multipathic friend of mine and I only write phrases or things that he can understand, which is a system that almost never fails, but that was before because my friend died of lots of things, and I can aver and assure you that everything I had written until then I had written for him and that everything I have written since I have written for him. Having got to here I can answer the first question (who am I?) with a little more self-assurance. I am the familiar voice that seems to call you in the empty house, I am one of the many on the promenade of the forsaken, I am one of those who organises the intergalactic voyage of the poor, the despair of the rich, the consolation of the old. As for the second question (why do I write?), I don't know.
Copyright © 1998 Institució de les Lletres Catalanes, with the author's permission