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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Fernández Retamar receives José Martí International Award

The José Martí International Award, which is given every two years by Unesco, was awarded to the poet and essayist Roberto Fernández Retamar, who has dedicated a great part of his life to the study of the highest figure in the history of the country, and who has turned in the first Cuban in receiving so important distinction.

It happened in that way during the opening of the IV International Conference For the Balance of the World, space where Katherine Muller Marin, director of the Regional Office of Culture for Latin America and the Caribbean of Unesco, highlighted the bonds that join José Martí with the organization of the United Nations.

According to Muller Marin, one century before the foundation of the Unesco, he shared his vision regarding the education, which has to be inclusive, equitable, of quality and accessible in all the stages of life.

They also used to share the principles of recognize and defend the cultural diversity, and the importance of the information and the communication in the development of the societies, the high representative pointed out.

Fernández Retamar receives José Martí International Award

Fernández Retamar, when receiving the distinction, manifested a huge gratitude with the Unesco, members of the jury, and with the José Martí Project of International Solidarity, which called to the great appointment.

He remembered that his devotion for Martí remounts to the earliest adolescence, and he has dedicated to the Master three books, numerous essays, conferences, anthologies and editions of Martí’s work.

I have proposed myself to be loyal to Martí’s ideals; he expressed, and added that the National Hero is, without possible discussion, the best of the Cubans.

In accordance with the official site of the Unesco, the Prize is aimed to promote and reward the particularly admirable activity that, agreeable with the ideology and spirit of José Martí, and embodying the vocation of sovereignty and the liberating fight of a nation has contributed to the unity and integration of the countries from Latin America and the Caribbean and the preservation of their identities, cultural traditions and historical values.

Established in 1994, this is the eighth time that this award is given and among who have won it Hugo Chávez, Frei Betto and Oswaldo Guayasamín highlight.

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