David González (San Andrés de los Tacones, Spain, 1964) began to write while in jail, when he was carrying out a sentence for a hold-up. Since his release, he has published 16 poetry books, from which “The Demon Eats Your Ears”, “Love Is No Longer Contemporary” and “Pray What You Know” take preponderance. He is a tall, thin, punctual, and extremely sincere man.
Why do you write poems about real experiences?
I scrupulously respect the autobiographical pact defined by Philippe Lejeune, by which the writer commits himself, if nothing else, to tell the reader the truth and nothing but the truth. One is to give documentary poetic value; otherwise it would be a mere anecdote. If you achieve it, with the passing of the years the poem will gain a historical value. I was classified as a realist for the themes that I use, for certain slang language that I use and, thematically, I do have some things from dirty realism, but my thing is the non-fiction poetry, which is not the same as to say realist poetry.
Has the truth an aesthetical value?
The problem is in knowing what beauty is. And the only beauty that does not change nor will ever change is the one of the truth, the beauty of the truth. Time is a perfect filter to distill and to see what experiences deserve to be told and, from those that deserve to be told, what details is necessary to tell, because I believe that it is in the details where the truth is. There is where the poet’s work starts, in digging deeper.
And how does David González dig deeper?
I try to go to the point, to clear away all the dirt, to pile it up and set it on fire. You start achieving this through reading all sorts of things. Many people base their poems on certain verses with powerful images. I don’t. My poem is like a building. The building, in this case, would begin to be constructed from the tiled roof and would end at the vestibule. That is, the final closing is like the vestibule of a building and it lights up what there is inside.
Why is non-fiction so important to you?
Because, although we live in a world of cultural fiction, when we go out in the street we leave with our physical body, we put it under reality, and I am in favour of knowing that reality and turn it into poetry. Fiction, even good fiction, the only thing that it has brought to this world is to leave it as it is. I myself was in jail believing that I was like El Torete and that I could go around waving a stick and robbing cars. But soon you realise that in films you go from freedom to jail, when you are out again, you are a millionaire, everything in two hours, but in reality it is not like that. The reality in jail is that three years are three years, not two hours. Fiction tends to smooth over the harshness of reality. And this is caused mainly by fiction that is bad. I would give the example of Corín Tellado. It is considered that her little love stories have helped people during Franco’s period, right? I believe that they were deceiving, mainly for women, who were those that read the novels, because those women were waiting for fucking Prince Charming and then they would find themselves with a bastard that would slap them around, insult them and would have them as fucking slaves. So, I believe that it would have been better that Corín Tellado had written about what would really be on a women’s path with certain men and the different possible scenarios with them.
Has poetry a constructive mission then?
Sure, by all means, mate.
Should this be consciously sought after?
No. The poet consciously looks to construct the poem well. Its moral tasting, the degree of its sincerity and its truth, all that is reflected unconsciously in the poem. And it is clearly constructive to show people what they can’t or do not want to see. But always doing it with art, with artistic quality. Otherwise it would be an anecdote, or fable, or advice. And a poet never can give moralizing advice. Its moral is the very same poem. And it is constructive because the truth always is constructive. People have told me that they were in hospital on the verge of kicking the bucket and a book of mine would arrive, brought by a relative, and they say “thanks to your book I gathered the strength to face all this and was able to leave the hospital alive”. So, see if poetry isn’t constructive, and I am speaking of mine, which is not known. Imagine the poetry of people like Bertolt Brecht or Carver. I read Bukowsky while in jail and said to myself, if this fucking drunk is able to write a novel like Factotum, I am going to leave this place alive for sure, mate, because I consider myself younger, more handsome, even if that is all, than a 70 year-old guy that has gone through all this, right? And all that gave me strength while in jail, and it gave me strength to read Papillon, although I had already read it when I was 12 years old; if Papillon could survive the prison of the time, how am I not going to survive the school jails of today, mate? Then, the good Literature, I believe – and I am not saying that mine is, time will tell that- helps you to strengthens your spirit, to face life saying I am not the only one that is doing this, I am not the only one that does not surrender, there are other people.
And, when the time of passing comes, would the non-fiction poetry be of any use?
When I kick the bucket? What a bitch… I am very scared of death… I would prefer to die of a long and painful disease, a cancer, for example, because it would give me time to do several things: first, to tidy up my papers, and my files, and all that shit; second, to say goodbye to the people that I love, and that the people who love me would even wish my death not to see me in the conditions in which I would be; and because it would give me time to, if I cannot write, dictate my dying experiences…. That is very important. If I die of a heart attack, it does not give me time me to say farewell, neither to write anything, nor to put anything in order, nor to do anything at all. But with a disease you can write down your experiences and those impressions can serve for something or to someone that is going through the same situation as you.
So, you would poetically chronicle your own steps to the gallows?
Yes, that’s what I would do. But I am terrified of death. There isn’t a Great Beyond mate, it’s all a fucking fabrication. I would like it if there were something, of course, even if it was worse than this, even if I went from this world into another one in which I would have to dig for diamonds in South Africa.
Life, even in the worst conditions?
Yes, but with a little health. A dead person does not hear anything, there you are in a box, or burnt, and the whole thing ended, my friend. Hopefully I am wrong, that there is a God, but seeing how Christianity was constructed and seeing also how the representatives of God on Earth behave… Did Pope John Paul II want to die? He clung to life, for God’s fucking sake, until the last moment. If you are sure that there is a God and on top of that you are His Earth representative, what would you prefer, to be here suffering or go with Him to sit at his right hand, like Jesus? The details, mate, the truth is in the details, the fat ring that the fucking Pope wears, there, that’s what you have to pay attention to, that…
If there isn’t a Great Beyond, are you working against being forgotten?
I work because I adore poetry.
Before we go our separate ways, David Gonzalez takes a little paper out of his pocket and reads a phrase by Varlam Shalamov: “Poetry is a sacrifice, not a conquest”.