Cuba: The Poetry that Saves Us

Verónica Vega

Francis Sanchez. Photo:
Francis Sanchez. Photo:

HAVANA TIMES — It is said that Jose Marti once declared that “poetry is more important than industry, for it can prop up or take down souls.”

Being exposed to Cuban poet Francis Sanchez’ exhibition Cicatrices (“Scars”) at the alternative gallery El Circulo (“The Circle”) made me understand two things:

How tenacious the spirit can become in a socially disemboweled country and how much the generations that have ceased to believe in Cuba are in need of this kind of poetry, of an art where the distances brought about by egotism, lack of communication and lies are acknowledged and where the dreams that have been betrayed, the eagerness to change things and mobilize individuals, make them more than mere witnesses to destruction, is expressed.

The impact the author has on us by fusing words and images can only be conveyed through a visual poem itself, where the wounds all Cubans have – those who left, those who refuse to stay or those who remain, those who demand the right to enter and leave the island without being forced to renounce anything and without coercion – are exposed.

Rather than wounds, these are sores that never truly healed, seams that conceal a throbbing fear, our isolation, our apathy (the eternal disguise of our dissatisfaction).

At the request of Lia Villares, the host, Francis also presented the public with three video-poems, a project which involved more resources, in which the visual is intertwined with the voice of the artist, that of his wife Ileana Alvarez and the established poet Roberto Manzano (in celebration of his 60th birthday).

Thanks to initiatives such as those of El Circulo, which are not confined by the endless arbitrariness of official criteria, the exhibition is open to the public at 316 10th Street (between 13th and 15th streets), Vedado, some blocks away from the Chaplin cinema.

Thanks to the freedom afforded by the authentic spiritual search through poetry and in life, the manipulation of frames, intertextuality, protest and lyricism, the poet from Ciego de Avila betray the throbbing life beneath the scab, the metabolism that inevitably takes place prior to any regeneration.

One day, Cuba’s scars may indeed dry up and become sterile. In the meantime, I welcome all those who still dare to confess they hurt.

One thought on “Cuba: The Poetry that Saves Us

  • Music, poetry; the arts persist amid all war and all human misery.
    Cuba’s hard times will ease considerably when the USA ends its anti-democratic war on Cuba .
    And although this will be obscure and seem the stuff of science fiction, the present and rapidly accelerating second machine age will produce super-human artificial intelligence (AI) by the early 2020s and this is absolutely certain.
    That AI will not just equal human intelligence but rocket way past it at such a rate that by 2045 (probably much earlier) , none of the experts on AI will even attempt to know or think of what becomes of an intelligence that holds something like a billion Earth’s civilization’s worth of knowledge.
    Does it gain consciousness ?
    Sorry if this seems a diversion but in just a few decades, smarter-than-human super advanced machines will provide all the people of the WORLD need for better-than-you-can -dream lives in which all unwanted human labor will be a thing of the past.
    Here’s the good part for the poets, the writers , all artists , dancers , athletes whatever.
    There will be NO jobs for humans EXCEPT for those who choose to, say for example build their own house when a robot crew could do it free, better, faster than that human .
    All humans will decide what it is they want to do with their lives without regard for
    whether or not it makes money.
    You can write poetry for as long as the muse permits .
    You can be the best singer possible for your talents
    You can do whatever it is that lights your fire
    AND you can change your chosen career at anytime
    Think of the possibilities.
    That machine intelligence will far surpass human capabilities by the early 2020s is a certainty under Moore’s Law ( the doubling of computing speeds every 18 months [or less as is happening now]) .
    It is said that the smarter-than-human intelligence will be the last invention of humanity as something way smarter than a million Albert Einsteins will,then analyze, design , create , operate and repair if and as needed everything humanity needs after that.
    I know this is very hard to imagine but poets are dreamers .
    Just think a bit about if this all comes about in roughly 15 years when most jobs for humans go to the smarter machines we’ll begin to see by the mid 2020s.
    You get to write poetry.
    I get to see the demise of capitalism
    Win-win situation for humanity.

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