Soledad Álvarez: “No one can write if they are not first a great reader”

Soledad Alvarezthe fifth woman to be chosen National Literature Prize 2022, raises the need for the Dominican State to stimulate in schools, from the first education, the love for reading and writing, because they are ideal ways to discover lovers of literature who, in some cases, might not be aware that they have the potential to cultivate it.

And it is that for the award-winning Dominican writer it is of vital importance to recover the humanistic sciences in schools, through the promotion of books and reading.

“You cannot stimulate something that is not known. The stimulus passes through knowledge. Perhaps there are many writers, hundreds of them, musicians, poets in our streets, who don’t know they have that gift, because they don’t know the genre, because the school doesn’t teach them to read”, he exclaims loudly.

The only condition in all this is that there is a political will to stimulate the readingliterature and thought, says the writer, while expressing that this association is made at school with libraries, with contests.

“It is not true that young people do not like literature, it is not true that they do not like poetry. I have been to many Book Fairs and I have had a lot of contact with young people, and when they fall in love, even if they don’t know literature, they want to write poetry, because it is one of the ways they have to convey their feelings”, he explains.

With a soft, reflective tone and intoning each of his words, he formulates this reflection: “First of all is the recovery of the humanities in Dominican schools, the encouragement of books and reading. Nobody can write if they are not a great reader first”.

More than half a century after her first literary publication, the poet and narrator relives those days when she says: “I was 17 years old (1967) at that time and I had sent a short story (Agonía) to the newspaper El Caribe, and it It occurred to me to send it to Manuel Valdepares without saying anything to anyone, not my mother or anyone. I sent it and when I opened the newspaper on Saturday, I saw that my story had been published.

“Reading is, really, one of the blessings of life. Entering a book, having a dialogue, speaking with a poem, discovering that other world that literature opens up to me, entering that reality that is as true as the one that surrounds me, it is an enrichment, an opening of life, of reality, which is priceless” Soledad Alvarez National Prize for Literature 2022

The movement of his eyes seems to give life to each of his words, and this is what he expresses: “That for me was an emotion that I still remember and that I have felt again on a few occasions, on very few occasions in my itinerary” .

Soledad Alvarez is convinced, more than half a century later, that promoting reading in a person, it is one of the main keys to cultivate a great writer, and that is one of her main testimonies of life as a writer and poet. “Even though she was very young, she read a lot,” she says, referring to the publication of her first literary work, in 1967.

The award

“I did not expect that distinction. I received it with an emotion, with so much emotion that I could not avoid tears. I received it with pride and with great humility.” This is how the famous writer responds when she is asked about the phone call that announced her election.

That call – I received it with the same emotion, as when I saw the first publication of a text of mine in the newspaper El Caribe in 1967 – he affirms, referring to the voice he heard that morning on the telephone.

“Emotion and fear, well, that was what I felt that day, when I received the call from the Corripio Foundation. That shock that is at the same time a commitment, a scare, a fear, between scare and fear, wondering if I am worthy, but I am determined to honor it, above all, to honor that award that is so important”, were her words.

The poet and writer is very honored to know that great writers have also received this distinction and, above all, that the person who was closest to her in terms of guidance and companionship, Manuel Rueda, was one of the managers and ideologues of the National Literature Prize.

“I thought of so many friends who are no longer there, so many poets who deserved it too and who unfortunately could not receive it, I thought a lot about my generation and I received it with that feeling, Rossanna, the feeling that somehow this award comes through a process. generational, that in some way I tried to transmit, to recreate in my latest poetry book Autobiografía en el agua”.

The Post-War Generation: Young Poetry, is where it is framed Soledad Alvarezand from that group they have received the National Literature Prize award-winning writers such as Janet Miller, Andrés L. Mateo, Ángela Hernández, Mateo Morrison, among others.

As the fifth woman to receive the award, she considers that poetry written by women in the Dominican Republic is very strong, and that over the years the number of women linked to poetic work has increased.

“I cannot imagine myself without literature, I cannot imagine myself without poetry, because they form part of me, so much of my life, of my daily life, which is like drinking water, eating, sleeping, it is a part of my reality, a continuation of reality” Soledad Alvarez National Prize for Literature 2022

“I think that fortunately there are no longer a few women who write poetry. In previous generations we were a minority, but now we are on a par, and I think that these recognitions are incentives so that young women also want to work and know that they also have the possibility of receiving incentives, ”she highlights.

His intimacy with literature

Inspiration and discipline would be the ideal words to describe the intimacy of Soledad Alvarez with literature.

“Someone once said that if inspiration exists and if it comes to me, let it come to me in front of the computer. The two things must be united, I think that not everything is discipline, it is the conjunction of the two things, of that poem that begins to spin in your head, ”he says.

She explains that sometimes a verse arises when she is eating, or reading and that it does not leave her; many times they come when she is falling asleep and they turn it over in her head.

“That verse may not make it into a poem, but it may. For it to become a poem, I have to work on it, sit for hours, I am a non-delayed and demanding writer, who changes a lot, corrects a lot and is always attentive to that first feeling that arose in me, I never betray that first impulse”, she exclaims.