Poet of the Week: Carmen Yáñez

image credit: mayang.com

The poet Carmen Yáñez was born in Santiago de Chile in 1952. In 1975, during Augusto Pinochet’s regime, she was imprisoned and held at Villa Grimaldi, the headquarters of the secret police. After her release, she remained in hiding until 1981, and with the help of the U.N., eventually settled in Sweden. From 1982 until the mid-nineties, Yáñez wrote mostly for Swedish poetry magazines, then began to publish in Chile. In 1997, she moved to Asturías in Spain. Yáñez read at the Hay Festival Cartagena in 2009.

This poem, “Morada,” which means abode or dwelling place, speaks to Yáñez’s exile and desire to regain one’s lost identity:

Se han ido todos;
el bosque con su música de abetos,
los hombres cargando sus sombras
y sus perros.

Y eran de sueño los prismas de colores
que dejaban tras de sí.

Se han ido todos.

Yo me quedo
con un mínimo candil
entre las manos.

De vez en cuando
soy el árbol
que apuesta sus raíces
a la tierra.


They have all gone;
the woods with its music of firs,
men carrying their shadows
and their dogs.

And dreams were colored prisms
they left behind.

They have all gone.

I remain
with a small light
in my hands.

I am the tree
who wagers its roots
to the earth.

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