Roberto Fernández Retamar, the Poet

Roberto Fernández Retamar (1930-2019) bequeaths a huge work: in verses, in prose… also in the fertile commitment to a Revolution to which he devoted his best efforts.

One doesn’t need to read Roberto Fernández Retamar’s poems twice to understand him. This is not a virtue in itself, but in his case it says a lot of lyrical calling: Retamar wrote to share. That’s why his verses seem as something from of each one of us. That is: they speak of our dreams, of our goals, of the ups and downs of our lives. And they also speak, , with our words, those we use every day. The way of "spinning" those poems is already something else: one has the impression that even oneself could not say better what the poet puts before us… and it’s, in the end, what we had needed to say.

The poet brings together two environments, the romantic daydreaming and everyday life, and when he brought them together he made them a single thing. That is, in the end, one of the wins of poetry: that the lyrical work becomes "tangible" nature. The transparency of what he proposed never became simplicity in the thinking. Roberto Fernández Retamar was born from a perfectly identifiable landscape and he "returned" it without alterations, marvelously recreated. It was not adorning the context, it was to discover its essential beauty.

It’s exactly for that reason that the scope of his themes is so wide. He wrote of love and also of the issues in the construction of a new society that were many and far more pressing. Seem like that, it sounds as socialist realism, but Retamar never allowed a functional and dogmatic exaltation, more propaganda rather than poetry. It were remarkable the critical vision and the lyrical bravado.

In his more epic and social poetry, Roberto Fernández Retamar was always an optimist. More than a thousand times he called to see a better future… and fight to attain it. The Revolution of 1959 showed him the road of that possibility. No one (much less him) said that it would be an easy road. He pointed out contradictions many times, he was involved in polemics… and his work is abundant in recollecting. He never tried to simplify the reach (and obstacles) of a renovating political process. He neither tried to sweeten history.

But he always offered the other side of the coin, the most intimate, and the personal history that so many times depends on the great history:

The time and memory, it’s known are key elements of poetry. In Retamar’s poetry also appear, of course. Here and there he outlines a game of apparent opposites, past against future to finally explain the convergence: we are always consequence. Nevertheless, the poet doesn't goat on what he lived, he prefers to wait a new morning:

The feats or horrors of the past don’t exist. / The present is faster than the reading of these very words. / The poet greets the things to come / With a salvo in the dark night. (Excerpt of the poem A Salvo of Future).

The death of a lucid poet is not just that of the man, but of the possible work, the one a lifetime wasn’t enough to do. Roberto Fernández Retamar has bequeathed an impressive lyrical body that is fortunately saved. What he took with him was that other poetry, patrimony of the dreams.

Renowned poet and essayist Roberto Fernandez Retamar passes away in Havana

Renowned Cuban poet, essayist and literary critic Roberto Fernandez Retamar passed away in Havana Saturday. He was 89.

Abel Prieto, president of the Jose Marti Cultural Society, confirmed the death of the president of Casas de las Americas on Twitter.

“We have lost one of the greatest poets and thinkers of America and the world.  He leaves us an exceptional work, focused on decolonization and anti-imperialism,” Prieto tweeted.

Fernandez Retamar was a central figure in Cuba literary scene since the 1960s, he wrote over a dozen major collections of verse and founded the Casa de las Americas cultural magazine.  He had also served as president of that institution since 1986.

Fernandez authored Calibán, considered one of the most important essays written in Spanish language in the 20th century.

In 1989, he was awarded the National Prize for Literature.

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Cuban Author Wins International Fantastic Poetry Contest

Cultural sources have reportedly announced that the Cuban writer Maria Cristina Martinez won the 11th International Fantastic Poetry Contest 2019, hosted by the Spanish digital magazine miNatura, in which 85 works from various countries participated.

Martinez, a resident of this western city, succeeded with the poem Entre Soles ('Between Suns'), which, according to the author, pays tribute to Polish science fiction icon Stanislaw Lem and his novel Solaris.

The jury's report acknowledges that the winning text is overwhelming and catches the reader, 'making the difficult easy, a trip to the complicated world of Lem', reported the local daily Giron.

Martinez was awarded in 2017 the national prize for fantastic literature in the Oscar Hurtado contest, also in poetry, and has also explored children's literature with the book El libro de los muchos trajes ('The Book of the Many Suits'), by Matanzas Editions.

In the event this year, eight other poems were also awarded, including La voz del vacio ('The Voice of the Void') and Melancolia de Persefone ('Melancholy of Persephone'), by the Cubans Carlos Duarte and Milho Montenegro, in that order, as well as bards from Argentina, Mexico, Germany and the headquarters.

The aforementioned online magazine is a bimonthly non-profit publication, specializing in the fantasy genre, science fiction and terror.

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Carilda, in her 95

Last Thursday, the poetess celebrated her birthday in her house on Tirry Avenue, in Matanzas, with the affection and admiration of her city and her country…

Carilda Oliver Labra is known, even by those who haven’t read her poetry, for a memorable verse, which has become heritage of our national wit: “Me desordeno, amor, me desordeno” (I go crazy, love, I go crazy). Notwithstanding it has been taken out of context a thousand times, it can still provide keys of an interesting lyrical voice: We’re before a poetess who hasn’t turned her back on popular expression, who does not fear to enter into fields that others may consider rough, arduous and even vulgar… when talking about life and love…

Carilda Oliver Labra has never asked for permission to write, nor has she sought the approval of academics or moralists. She’s shown her poetic sensitivity that has a lot to do with her sensitivity as a woman, without paying attention to rules or prejudices. Nobody can question the frankness of that creation.

That, perhaps at this time, does not seem much merit. But, when Carilda excelled in the 1940s, not all women (or men) dared to talk frankly about love experiences, often marked by a determined eroticism.

Of course, Cuba had a long tradition of poetry written by women, which Carilda drank from. But she always bet on a freedom that not very few deem nerve, but that distinguished her in Cuban lyrical panorama over the years and with the refinement her expression.

A recurrent topic in Carilda’s work has been the ups and downs, certainties, uncertainties and flings of love. Great topic, topic many times assumed. However, Carilda has insisted in approaching it without avant-garde pretensions, quite attached to the conversation. In fact, there’s certain melodramatic touch in many of her poems, which may have disturbed some, but that ultimately shapes the atmosphere of those works.

And we should also talk about her ludic, playful spirit, which reserves the reader points of unexpected turns, but definitively organic.

We must read Carilda Oliver Labra. Lovers who do not know her books should look for them, because they will be able to discover themselves in some other verse there. Nobody should fear a difficult reading, an inaccessible darkness, because these poems are lavished by their simplicity. The most experienced reader, of course, will find here and there compelling images, beautiful and very original metaphors.

Carilda Oliver Labra celebrated 95 years in her hometown, Matanzas, city of poets. She, in fact, is a living symbol of that city, has been chronicler and protagonist of many its artistic and literary milestones in the last century. And that’s another edge of her lyrical itinerary: memory games, which are inhabited by facts, things and people, as well as friends, neighbors, lovers, family…

Translated by Jorge Mesa Benjamin / Cubasi Translation Staff

Novel by Marta Rojas well received in Madrid

The most outstanding work by Cuban writer and journalist Marta Rojas, the novel Las campanas de Juana la Loca, received high praise during its launch at the Organization of Ibero-American States.

During the presentation of the novel in Andrés Bello Hall in the heart of Madrid, intellectual Clara Caballero speaking on behalf of CIDALIA Consulting, stated that the novel defines Marta Rojas as a leader of a new school of the Latin American novel, the “Benito Pérez Galdós” of Cuba, whose non-linear structure takes on a similar style to that of Galdós.

Participants also highlighted the revival of the figure of the cigar factory reader, declared cultural heritage of the nation due to the importance of this tradition in Cuban culture.

This individual is responsible for reading the news, novels, stories, poetry, and fables to keep workers entertained as they roll cigars.

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Passion with a Genuine Spanish Accent

Spanish dance knows no bounds, even inspiring Rainer Maria Rilke, one of the most important figures of German poetry and global literature (Prague, 1875- Montreux, 1926), to write a poem “The Spanish Dancer” in 1906.

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University: Poet, author Maya Angelou dies at 86

NEW YORK (AP) — Maya Angelou was gratified, but not surprised by her extraordinary fortune. "I'm not modest," she told The Associated Press in 2013. "I have no modesty. Modesty is a learned behavior. But I do pray for humility, because humility comes from the inside out."

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