First Language(s): Spanish
Second Language(s): English, French
Yannis Lobaina is a Cuban writer, filmmaker, and photographer based in Toronto. Lobaina’s short stories have been published in Cuba, Mexico, Brazil, Canada, Spain, and in literary magazines such as Paralelo Sur and Revista Quimera (Barcelona). In 2019, she received the Toronto Arts Council Newcomer and Refugee Artist Mentorship grant for her current picture book. https://enlareddeltiempo.com/
What was your favorite book as a child?
Since I was a child, I have read voraciously. I had a lot of favourite books. But if I have to choose, I will mention three titles that still accompany me in my adulthood, and are now a reference for my daughter Amélie. They are: “Momo” by Michael Ende, “The Little Prince” (I have it in several languages) by Antoine Saint-Exupery, and “La Noche” by Exicilia Saldaña (Cuban). I have reread them at various stages of my life, and I am still excited to read them and keep them here in Toronto.
Do you remember the original reason or motivation why you started writing creatively?
I imagine, like almost all of us who love to write and today, we are authors, our passion and interest arose in our childhood. At least in Cuba, from a very young age, we all instill a love of storytelling, and in schools, we are encouraged to use our imaginations as much as possible and create our own stories. In my case, I wrote from that magic stage. I remember making up stories all the time, so much so that when I talked about something real with my friends and cousins, everyone thought it wasn't real, but a product of my imagination. I took writing seriously in 2004 when I graduated from the VII Literary Training Course, "Onelio Jorge Cardoso,” and after I published my first stories in Spain and Cuba. Since then I’ve been fascinated to create more and more fiction stories. I’m also passionate about writing historical fiction like this one I published a few years ago, “Juana of Leon. That’s Me.” in the anthology “The Oval Portrait” by Wings Press.
What was the most adventurous or thrilling thing you ever did/experienced?
I love adventures, but I think the most exciting one was 20 years ago, just when I was 20 years old. It was my only time doing it — bungee jumping off the Bacunayagua Bridge: the highest in Cuba, it has a total length of 313.50 meters and a height of 110 meters from the river level to the pavement. It is considered one of the seven wonders of Cuban civil engineering. The second is falling in love with a foreigner, getting married and being a mother. And the third immigrating to Canada and reinventing my new life far from my homeland and family.
Do you listen to music while reading or writing?
I listen to music ALL the time from when I wake up until I go to bed. I am fascinated by writing while listening to music, it gives me the feeling that the rhythm and tone of my story come alive. The opposite is precisely when I go out to take photographs or read, in those two moments, I like the silence, and maybe imagine the music later. I love making playlists on Spotify. Here I share the playlist that has accompanied me in these months of confinement, and with which I have written several stories: https://spoti.fi/2QMhVej
Issue Fall '20