Episode 1: Poet Barbara López

On the first episode of Literary South the poet and short story writer Barbara López talks about some of her different projects as a writer and shares three poems.

Silvia Rothlisberger: Barbara, tell us about your book: Fantasmas, Amor y Más

Barbara López Cardona: Fantasmas, Amor y Más is a book that I made with two very dear friends. We met in a reading group.  It was progressing into a bigger thing.

We met there, we connected with our interests, I think so. One day we were at the pub and then all of a sudden we said to each other why don’t we write a book. And from there we started to work in it and it was a  lovely process, and lots of sleepless nights and things like that. At the end, it took us like two years to combine all the work, the material we wanted to publish. The result was Fantasmas, will be ghosts, Amor, love, y más, and more. Basically the book is about that, it’s about ghosts in our minds, love and more…all the experiences we have in life. And it has poems, short stories and love. 

SR: Tell me about the process of writing Fantasmas, Amor y Más. As you said at the beginning, it was a collaboration between three friends coming together and writing a book of poetry and short stories, so I want to ask you, how was the process? Did you write the material together?

Barbara López Cardona: No, we really didn’t do that work together. We had our own work already written. What we did was coming together and reading to each other and giving feedback.  Also, deciding this will fit in here or maybe this will be better or how to do something that even though it was different styles of course of writing, we tried to make it the content of it to be related or kind it to be related to each other, let it flow and even though we were three writers, we did it in a way. We start with poetry, then short stories and then go out with poetry again. You can read it separately each author or you just can read it as a book.

SR: You are also member of the Collective Bard without Borders, a group of poets and writers from refugee and migrant background that are commemorating the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death through writing.

Tell us about this project?

Barbara López Cardona: Bards without borders came to me by chance and I embraced it because I get to know people from different corners of the world. We are all, as you said, from migrant and exile background. There are people from Tanzania, to Bangladesh. Even though we work on the theme of Shakespeare because it’s the 400th anniversary this year, and we are writing taking into account the work of Shakespeare. Even though it’s about the same subject, we have our own views and at the end the poems are very different. But we have that connection, we are migrants here and we understand the feelings of each other and it’s been a lovely group.

SR: Barbara tell me about your poem Hidden which is part of the anthology In protest

Barbara López Cardona: The poem Hidden is based on the armed conflict in Colombia, where kidnapping and raping and all these kind of things happen with the guerrillas, still until today after more than 50 years, it inspired me to write this poem about the emotional trauma that such events leave on their victims.

SR: Tell me about the writing group SLAP?

Barbara López Cardona: Spanish and Latin American Poets and Writers, SLAP, is a collective that aims to spread art from the Latin American community in London. As a community we have been invisible here in the UK and a group like this was missing. Through literary events we want to show our writing and that we can be creative too. SLAP is formed by nine poets from Peru, Mexico, Bolivia, Chile, Argentina, Spain and Colombia. I’ve learned from all of them, writing poetry is a solitary endeavour so being in a collective like this is great to develop and experiment with new themes.

After this interview was conducted, Barbara joined the group Diaspora Woman and she answered this question via email:

SR: Tell me about Diaspora Woman and your contribution to this group as a writer?

Barbara López Cardona: In this group we work with victims of the armed conflict in Colombia. We are all women and we gather and listen to the testimonies of each one of the victims, with this we aim to heal the trauma caused by both the armed conflict as well as the migration process. My contribution to the group is through poetry, as I write poems based on the testimonies or in my poems I talk about human rights violations, or more recently about activists that have been murdered in Colombia.

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