Maria G. de Montis | Madrid – 20 September 2022
The first book of poetry Ecuadorian writer Andrea Rojas Vazquez, Take Me Home Please, is told in the childlike and innocent voice of a girl who is scared to death: a voice that, as its author admits, could be “that of many girls around the world” who live surrounded by violence and who feel terror on the streets and in their homes, at night and in broad daylight. From this panic is born this “diary” that Libero now publishes in Spain, where panic and death are verbalized as a “kiss” on the lips of an adult, the girl who was once its author.
“I’m doing a reflection exercise on my life, which is actually the life of many Latin American girls and even of many girls around the world», explains the author (Loja, Ecuador, 1993) in an interview with Efeminista. “I experienced a lot of violence. Y It was extremely difficult to overcome the fear».
“It made me wonder why the possibility of rewriting childhood. Because if I had written with the wild violence that permeated the days of my childhood, I would not have come out alive,” says the author, winner of the National Award “Ileana Espinel 2021” with this title.
Agro-industrial technologist by education, but dedicated to literary teaching and cultural management, Rojas Vasquez has published To Kill a Rabbit and contributed to the anthologies Horses Born of Dust and The Longest Flight. Spanish-American Poetry. Take Me Home Please, which has a foreword by Marta Asuncion Alonso, is her first book published in Spain.
“take me home please”
QUESTION.- “Take Me Home Please” was originally published in Ecuador. How do you take this rewrite, this reissue in Spain?
ANSWER.- Well, it’s a bit of an early book. I was 22 years old when I wrote it, now I’m 27… several events happened. But I’ve always tried to ensure that my lyrics maintain a certain respite, that they allow for closure, perhaps because of my own insecurities. I believe in this “Take Me Home Please” is also a kind of transit through my autobiography and accompanies me on my life’s journey.
I encounter this reissue from a different vital moment. This book is something like a blog: the images presented are collected in an almost organic way. I didn’t want to write a book until I had itand when I had it I was able to cut, shape and comb it.
Q.- In the book there is a break with the mother, with the genealogy. It’s almost teenage rebellion. In your case, what is the connection with genealogy?
R.- I believe in this each book has its own literary family. An instinctive family, I suppose, attached to the feeling of blood, to the fury and tenderness it evokes in every moment. And “Take Me Home Please” is the plea of a dislocated daughter, the search for identity. And I think in that sense, one of the authors that stuck with me the most was Sharon Olds, because of her raw erotica.
Pedigree “in good health”
Q.- And in this family chosen to accompany each book, are there more men or women?
R.- Well, I think there are more womenBut he usually doesn’t think about it. Although I read more women with a little conscience. It is a part of speech and historical statement. I come from a small town in Ecuador and I haven’t read women because I didn’t have access to those books. And if I start looking at the streets of the city, and they’re not there… it makes one feel a little lonely. And now there is a spread of voices, which gives me a lot of hope.
Question: Since you went to school, do you think the situation of women in Ecuador has improved?
R.- I think there is a “tris” of visibility, maybe global. Now I see women writing, for example, and this was not so easy before. But I think there’s still a gap: that’s why we have to be strong, to forge things with courage.
C.- In the book there is a constant verbalization of violence. How does this relate to the childhood your poems are about?
R.- Look, I am doing a reflection exercise based on my life, which is actually the life of many Latin American girls and even many girls around the world. In the case of my generation, of my education, I experienced a lot of violence. And it was extremely difficult to overcome the fear. And one understands as one grows up that these fears are fed not only by the dictatorial voice of society, but also by those indelible marks that are written on one’s own heart.
That got me wonderingto the possibility of rewriting childhood. Because if I wrote with the savage violence that permeated my childhood, I wouldn’t make it out alive.
And this is Take Me Home for me: an exercise in courage, a kiss for this girl.
Focus on local
Q.- Both your academic studies and your literary project focus on the local. Why?
R.- In my life I feel as if I have had and have a double or triple identity. About me, writing is the greatest performance, the craft I devote my life to. And it’s true that it doesn’t exactly fit the career I chose (agribusiness technology), but I think deep down it speaks to the same thing.
I come from a very small town near the border with Peru and I am very far from the centers of power in Ecuador, like Quito or Guayaquil, 12 or 16 hours away. And my city focuses on promoting art and culture, but it still lacks many things. For example, he forgot about industry, about the importance of production and if you are looking for a job you have to emigrate. In my case, I have been living in the capital, in Quito, for three days.
that’s why I studied agribusiness, because I wanted some technical studies that would allow me to make a plan of action, a proposal that would be a gesture of love for my people. But it is very difficult: like any small environment, it has its peculiarities and a rather hermetic, conservative vision. After all, over the years, you end up accepting that this productive change in your country, this commitment to modernization, is not going to happen. However, it is still possible in the literature.