With the eyes of a child Yoandry Martínez Rodríguez draws the world, a real and complex world where racism, gender violence, and emigration also exist. But, in the innocent space where problems are just beginning to gain a name, the writer sets up swings to rock dreams.
Perhaps also for that art of giving smiles in the face of fear, the author recently won the Matanzas City Foundation Prize 2020, in children’s literature. His novel suggests characters and stories that are necessary to read in today’s Cuban society.
-Why the title When you grow up I’ll be on the swings?
“It arises from a publication by my friend Regla Abreu, a journalist from Cienfuegos, in which he appeared rocking on a swing. Next to the photo she placed a text where she said it would be there; I was so inspired by the idea that I started writing the novel. This book mainly tries to visualize common social problems, of which children are not strangers. I try to raise awareness in parents so that they do not make their children victims of their conflicts.
“The volume has a unique space, where there are no taboos or races, that space is the swings. It is the place where any child can find peace when rocking; he can touch the sky if he wants to and fly with the wind ”.
-How does Yoandry Martínez manage to combine reality and fantasy in his texts?
«I do not propose it. The idea comes, I start writing, I don’t know … it’s magic. This book, for example, I decided to divide it into three moments, in the first the story is told by a dark girl, dark, dark as a coal, but very happy to be like that; who discovers on the swings an ugly, ugly, ugly child with disheveled hair and as skinny as a cat, but who is also very happy to be like that.
“When she finishes telling her story, he begins in the second session of the book, because he also has family problems. Then she intervenes again and the two of them leave an open ending from the swings ”.
Author also of the titles Who hides the güije? ( Matanzas Editions, 2016) and Where is dad? (Ácana Editions, 2019).
-How did you start writing for that audience?
«Since I learned to read I began to attend the library frequently. At the age of seven or eight I started a literary workshop. Then I remember that I made a story and when I read it the coordinator asked me where I had copied it from. Although I explained that it was mine, she insisted and finally said: «Well if this story is really yours, never stop writing.»
“The scolding was so great the impact that I never attended the workshop again and never wrote again. But I was growing up and that person when he saw me on the street advised me to do it; then I got involved again with the House of Culture and literary workshops, such as the one on authors for children, thanks to my great friend and unconditional writer José Manuel Espino, who opened his arms to me ”.
“Then I won the Aldabón Editorial Creation Grant and that was a door to publish my first book with three theatrical pieces. I started to take the job seriously, with more commitment. I also had the opportunity to publish a book in Germany and then the novel Where is Dad? Received the Emilio Vallagas Award, 2017 ”.
Also a lover of theater, photography and audiovisual production, how does the writer link these passions?
“Working for eight years in a professional theater group was enriching, because it taught me to first visualize what I write. The same happens with the documentary, where I manage to reflect the problems of the community.
“Meanwhile, through photography I also try to show the conflicts that affect children. We recently mounted a joint exhibition with Pedro Betancourt’s library and gallery here, where we dealt with the issue of child violence ”.
Grateful to the jury for giving his work a vote and sure of the challenge posed by this award, the young creator is working on a new novel titled Forbidden to touch the sky. With two books in the works, he writes for the children who are his greatest passion.
So each story flaps wings, weaves illusions in sleeping places, makes adults reflect and smiles back at the little ones. The stories of Yoandry Martínez flutter over Matanzas and take flight, so that the magic of their swings reaches every corner.