THE DELIGHT OF PROVOCATIONS
Academician Virgilio López Lemus makes a delightful provocation to us by selecting thirty-one poets and poems for his Mural de poesía cubana. Desde sus orígenes hasta el vanguardismo, Colección Cuba de Ediciones La Palma, the first title of
from Islas Canarias. López Lemus insists on poetry, as the essence of the Cuban character, with a particular existence previous to identity and nation. The author names his selection as«a look into the Cuban nation through poetry», and it was labeled in El Mundo newspaper by Luis Antonio de Villena as «a small but wise anthology because you are left with an appetite».
We long to turn to poems when López Lemus speaks abouttwo extraordinary poets, who are the pride of the Spanish language. One of them is Julián del Casal, some of whose essential works, openly modernist, preceded those of Rubén Dario's. The other one, the greatest that Cuba has given birth to: José Martí, who wrote Ismaelillo years before Azul was written.
López Lemus is fascinated when saying: «thus we have two initiators of the most important current in poetry in Spanish America: modernism». But the compiler did not choose a poem for the son when representing our apostle. «Hierro» is the one chosen. And there is the eternal verse: «To die is pleasant: to live dead is terrible».
Virgilio ends with its mural with some born in the 19th century. He promises plans for a wider editorial effort that encompasses a collection of the overwhelming Cuban poetry of the 20th century. May he achieve it soon, because the poetry of this archipelago, which some insist to name island, is the literary expression that emerges with most plenty among us: the one we turned to with love and disagreement, in failure and glory, in the epic chapters and in the frequent melodramas. But it is there, for all Spanish-speakers because —as Mario Benedetti said—«the island, with its “anthropophagous” culture that was always characterized by “cubanizing” everything that reached its coasts and its canons (…) has, for long, accumulated names and works that, at least in poetry (and also in painting) position it among the three or four countries that have delivered most remarkable creations for the punished mixed race