Among the poetry, laughter, music, coffee and tea, on the afternoon of Monday, December 15, I was at the opening of the Poetry Without End Festival. I could not, thanks to institutional censorship, be at the House of Culture in Alamar, where the readings normally happen. However, the house of David, one of the members of the group Omni Zona-Franca, hosted the poets and the fans of poetry.
Micro Diez in Alamar might seem horrible at first glance; there are places in Havana from where it is very difficult to exchange one house for another: Alamar and El Reparto Eléctrico. But today I left with the absolute certainty that, at bottom, Alamar is not so bad. What it lacks in aesthetics the town makes up for by the creativity and solidarity of neighbors.
I could be happy every day of my life to take the P11 bus just for the readings of the poet Manual González Busto, and to dream for a half hour that I am Giselle, the Dutch muse to whom he directs his letters; to hear Francis Sánchez and aspire to understand his verses about the history of Ciego de Ávila, to shout, “I love love!” in the chorus of David and to close my eyes when Amaury Pacheco plays the bells.
But above all these things, in the end I can’t deny that to read under the lamplight is incredible; I want to live in a neighborhood where the neighbors, when they are called to participate in a repudiation rally, oppose it, where they discuss and argue with the delegation about their reasons for refusing, as David’s neighbors did that evening. This is the Cuba in which I want to live, which I refuse to stop imagining, the Cuba that one day—without any doubt—not only will commit itself to poetry, but to all the other freedoms, perhaps more profane, to which I aspire as a human being.
This is an excerpt to a version of the song, Epitaph for Vladimir Visotski by Karsmarski Jacek (Polish dissident songwriter), which includes Ciro Diaz in his latest album, The Blue Slug, that I listened to compulsively for at least two months, especially on the street with my mp3 inherited from a friend who now has an I-pod. (Download the lyrics here) (Download the recording and album cover here) The song (in summary, which runs about ten minutes) is about a desperate artist going through the circles of hell in search of an answer or death, and at the end of his journey there is only loneliness and the weight of the supreme power above himself. So I found myself at times catching the bus across Havana at 12 noon in August under the perennial sunshine and with the distressing feeling of not going anywhere, or arriving too late, or going for pleasure ... I feel that I have already arrived at the eighth enclosure (this is the finale of the song) where there is nothing, and I feel useless and empty, and I look at people without faith who walk along the street and who have so much fear that they no longer know they're afraid, and who have seen so many Roundtables and so many news broadcasts that they no longer know what belongs to reality or just to the TV screen. They cannot discern that they no longer believe, but cannot disbelieve either, and just move along past me not going anywhere.