Xavier Mas Craviotto
- Spain -
Xavier Mas Craviotto (Catalonia, 1996) studied Catalan Philology and a postgraduate program on Language Consultancy and Publishing Services at the University of Barcelona. He is currently a lecturer at the University of Bristol, where he teaches Catalan language and culture, and works as a proofreader for publishing houses. He founded Com ho diria, a platform specialised in slang used by young Catalan speakers. At the age of 17, he was a finalist in the Jordi Sierra i Fabra Literary Prize of Spain and Latin America and, since then, he has won more than twenty narrative and poetry awards. He has published two novels, La mort lenta (‘A Slow Death’, 2019), which won the Documenta Prize, and La pell del món (‘The Skin of the World, 2023). He has also published three poetry collections: Renills de cavall negre (‘Black Horse Neighs’, 2019), which won the Salvador Iborra prize, La gran nàusea (‘The Great Nausea’, 2021) and La llum subterrània (‘The Underground Light’, 2023), which won the prestigious Ausiàs March prize. His short stories have been included in collaborative anthologies and he has participated in many poetry readings and panel discussions about language and literature.
“La gran nàusea is a book of poems that delves into a process of exhaustion and weariness. An erosion that consumes the bonds between consciousness and reality, and inevitably leads not only to a feeling of tedium, but also to a hyperconsciousness of unreality and an invasion of strangeness. Taking as its starting point the symbol of the nausea that can be found in Jean-Paul Sartre’s famous novel and also in some of Nietzsche’s works, together with other authors like Lars Svendsen, Peter Handke, Byung-Chul Han or filmmakers like Ingmar Bergman, the poems of this book rummage in the apathy raised in a world of demolished senses and wasted meanings, in the deep malaise that we have inside when we feel close the presence of an invasive, compact and solid void. La gran nàusea is a book about the (capital-V) Void. A Void that, like from the nausea to the vomit, starts being an inner and intangible discomfort and ends up being an outer and material reality; a deified Void that we liturgically venerate; a Void that goes from the individual to the community; a Void that in the beginning of the book pulls down a house and at the end of the book devours a whole city.
La gran nàusea is divided in three parts —repleció, antiperistalsi and èmesi—whose titles correspond to the three phases of vomit. In these poems, the reader will embark on a poetic journey with an I and a You that struggle to understand not only each other but also a world that fades away right before their eyes. A world in which anything makes sense because words have been worn away and have lost their capability of evoking and attributing meanings and identities.”
Bristol Poetry Institute
Extract from an interview “We have to protect ourselves from apathy”
In your first poem in The Underground Light there’s a disturbing, apocalyptic and deadly vision: “All the places became galleries full of corpses”.
The Undergro und Light starts off where my previous poetry collection, The Great Nausea, ended. The Great Nausea poeticized a process of exhaustion and wear, and an eventual devastation. The Underground Light starts with this devastation: a you and an I embark on a journey through this desolate place, which becomes an itinerary of reconstruction, not of what there was before, but of new realities that help us survive in a worn-out world and also new meanings to which we can cling.
It seems you are looking for transcendence in your poems. “The world fit in that silence”.
In this reconstruction I was talking about, there’s also the will to find new faiths, new languages, new symbols, new gods, a new world. This is why Poesía vertical by the Argentinian poet Roberto Juarroz was so important and telling for me: there I found the way to rethink a world, a reality, a system of symbols and representations…
When we face the chaos, and the world, we have to be quiet. And then I ask to myself, aren’t we going to go crazy? Are we ready to leave in peace, harmony and silence?
In The Underground Light silence becomes a space where you can build again, and the cancellation of language becomes the canal through which the way of looking and things, understanding and representing them can be reconsidered. Throughout the book, the I and the You have to face things in their most extreme nakedness, a transparency that dreads them, because there are not apriorisms anymore, nor the filter of a language what conditions them, a symbol that veils or imposes over a tangible reality.
There’s some abstraction in your poems, a certain idealism, an imaginative world, empty, boundless.
It’s paradoxical, because on the one hand it’s a very narrative book, where you can clearly follow a journey, with a progression, in which the you and the I move on and run into lots of different things and places, but on the other hand there’s a very important evocative component, based on suggestion, images, reflections on the poetic language through, precisely, the poetic language… Sometimes the poetry of “abstraction” you were talking about is associated with the incomprehension and hermetism, but, to me, this abstraction often made me understand things better than if they had told me in a direct, unambiguous way. An ”abstract” reality can help us grasp better a specific, material reality. I think there are places you can only access through poetry. If you could get there in another way, poetry wouldn’t be necessary anymore. On the other hand, it seems there is an urgency to “understand” poetry, but I’m not sure to what extent the verb “understand” can be applied to poetry, just as how we would never use this verb with a small or a melody. Poetry is something else.
In your poems you talk about dead birds, bats, pain and ethereal life. I want to highlight an extract: “Look at these wings, full of feathers, shaking in the wind”.
I’m interested in what elevates, this zenith gaze with perspective over the world. My novel The Skin of the World is also full of birds.
I would also highlight a mythical, primigenial research: “We still carried the beat of the world in the root of our hands”.
I feel appealed by how in everything we do and think always beats the heritage of world that we think we have left behind. The you and the I in the book, at the beginning, still carry the beat of the world in the root of their hands, and they’re aware they won’t be able to find or build anything with this heritage that would condemn them to a blind inertia, to reproduce and recreat what was already there.
There’s not much hope in your poems. You consider we have mutilated love. “It’s not a bed, it’s a grave”.
I never write to give and answer to a question, not even to comfort nor console nor instil hope into anyone. To me, writing is posing a question that will never be answered, a research process that never ends, a reflection on the language… In the context of The Underground Light , the you and the I realise the love model that prevails in a dead love, worn out, which is born already mutilated in the sense that it’s already prefabricated by its previous representations, as if it was some sort of commodity chain, and also because we inherit a very specific model of love that has been culturally and socially built throughout centuries, and the only thing we’ve done is reproduce it.
There’s no salvation, we can think. But I have a question. What should we be saved from?
I don’t write to save anyone, not even myself. But I think that, nowadays, if there’s something we should protect ourselves from is inertia. Apathy. Stop asking ourselves why we do what we do. Lose the meaning of things.
Purity / Puresa
autopsy / autòpsia
apocalypse / apocalipsi
the Void (or the betrayal of the word-crack) / el Buit (o la traïció de la paraula-escletxa)
Fantasies / Fantasies
fracture / fractura
Ruins/rubble / Ru(ï)na