Pol Guasch (Tarragona, 1997) is a poet and member of the cultural production company La Sullivan. He earned an undergraduate degree in Literary Theory and Comparative Literature (University of Barcelona), holds a master’s degree in Construction and Representation of Cultural Identity (UB), and he completed the Independent Studies Program at MACBA. He has been an associate professor of literature and cultural critique at the UB and is currently researching contemporary theory and literature at King’s College London, where he resides, thanks to a grant from Fundació laCaixa. He has published the poetry collections Tanta gana and La part del foc and has recited his poems at various national and international festivals, including Barcelona Poesia, the Sant Cugat International Poetry Festival, Poesia i +, the Festival of Hope, and the Poetry Festival Alguén que respira! among others.
Santa Maddalena has been for me a life-changing experience in a clear sense: Beatrice allowed writing to an unknown writer from a minority language, which is Catalan. To be in Santa Maddalena was a great opportunity to write the largest part of my second novel.
Santa Maddalena is a place you cannot describe with words. It is something sensorial: when you are there you both feel that you are in another world and you also feel that there are no places like this in other parts of this planet. Something of unicity and exceptionality arises in your feelings: what you experience there you are not going to experience it in anywhere.
There are a few things I would like to explain. The first one is the sense of time: in Santa Maddalena, you feel that time is completely different. A day is very short and very long at the same time. In one week you think that you have spent your whole life there and the opportunity to work expands itself. This is thanks of course to the way everyone treats you there: as if it was your home. Life gets another perspective because silence enters inside you and you get surrounded only by literature.
There is a second important thing, which is the people who are next to you. In Santa Maddalena, I met different writers and I had the opportunity to share feelings and thoughts about literature with very intelligent and sensitive creators. Santa Maddalena is a sanctuary of people that usually don’t have the sense of a temple. Santa Maddalena is the temple of literature and writing and when you enter there you also enter in the history of contemporary literature: so many important books have been written there, so many writers have shared those rooms.
It is also important to talk about Beatrice Monti, the generous funder and president of Santa Maddalena. You see in her eyes that she loves literature and her generosity has changed and is going to change the history of it: she has made possible so many novels, books of poetry, translations, that without Santa Maddalena wouldn’t exist at all.
I have a lot of memories of Santa Maddalena. Until now I have talked about the invaluable contribution of this foundation to contemporary literature and the history of world literature. However, there is also something very important, which are all the silent things that grow there: friendships, conversations until very late, so much fun, so many readings, a lot of things that change you not as a writer but as a person.
I could name a lot of examples, such as the walks with Emma Jones and Nicole Flattery through the woods; the dinners with Beatrice and all the other writers (Kaya, Henry, Maggie); the afternoons shopping together or drinking tea, the conversations until midnight. Thanks, thanks a lot, also to Emma, Rasika, Manju, Nico.
There are just some words that cannot cope with the potentiality of that atmosphere. Literature can capture everything but I am not sure if it can draw the magic and unicity of a place like that.