I Promise You the Apple, My Love
JOSÉ CARLOS DE SANTIAGO SAT DOWN WITH RAIDEL HERNÁNDEZ, HUSBAND OF LATE CUBAN POETESS CARILDA OLIVER LABRA, FOR THIS EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW
José Carlos : On Wednesday, August 5, the city of Matanzas was shaken by grim breaking news: the death of Carilda Oliver Labra, a creature who has remained reluctantly in his verses to encourage that vital source of poetry, a poetry that stands for a legacy of faith in words, love and life. What has it meant to you to have accompanied her as her husband for almost three decades?
Raidel Hernández : That is a question that can not be answered with a few sentences. For me, it is almost a goldsmithing job to separate the words from the memory, to remove them from their physical dimension to make that discourse, that world that can imitate with much imperfection the what has been lived. The fact that her hand, her hair, her warm clothes, all that made her in the physical being within reach of the senses, has suddenly become a handful of melancholic signs. What we call a word is a way to“rebuild”, never to resuscitate the woman that had not a single atom missing, the one who laughed with her throat and extended her hand to my hand. I cannot. I am unable to describe another episode that does not happen in life. Keeping it with me is a party, a celebration in which we only sleep by force. She is the happiest spirit I have related with. Depression, and even sadness, belong to others. Those are things that take away from others and then are thrown onto the streets and into the verses.
JC : Some wonder how two people so generationally apart had the necessary energy to defend a common life project over the years. There were fifty years apart, which represents half a century. I guess this has given way to misunderstandings and myths of all kinds.
RH: Sometimes people don't trust or tolerate what they can't explain, although in appearance any anomaly that interferes with the rules of coexistence does not affect them. I tell you this because living outside of some social norms not always has a negative impact on the group. However, it is inevitable that any variation in the dynamics of coexistence will be perceived as a threat. If this threat is sustained successfully over time, the myth is well founded. The myth has multiple faces; it either demonizes or idealizes the circumstance. In our case, this is accomplished with impeccable fidelity. It has always seemed strange to me that some people do not understand poetic attitudes. Why not explain that in the same way that any human being would argue it? We fell in love. Poetry is given in what many consider an impossible love; that of a young 19-year-old man could fall for a woman who was 68. This type of complicity is usually inexplicable for those who live within generationally-conserved patterns.
J C : Raidel, you are currently presiding over a Cultural Project called Al Sur de Mi Garganta (South of My Throat). We have seen month after month, through the media, the work that unfolds inside Tirry 81. Tell me just a little bit about how this idea occurred to you, this idea you took along with Carilda. Tell me about this space and how it has become, in nearly eight decades of work, an indispensable reference for cultural promotion in Cuba.
RH: I have the satisfaction of having contributed very humbly to the dissemination of its work, and therefore to its defense. The