Some weeks I heard on TV news that the winner of the award Puertas de Espejo at the National Library in the category of adult literature 2013 was the poetess from Matanzas Carilda Oliver Labra by her book "A woman who writes", published by Ediciones Matanzas. The news arrived behind schedule, but they brought the peculiar surprise of being a volume of poetry, that genre which some say it has just a few readers, the most requested in the Cuban libraries, according to the surveys that are made to grant it.
I had to make a brief trip to Matanzas for the poetess to give me that anthology, prefaced and selected, from all the vast work of Oliver Labra, by Raydel Hernandez Fernandez. The anthology tries and it is able to demonstrate how the civic and erotic tone ares, from the very beginning of Carilda with "To the South of my throat", two inseparable aspects of the work of the great writer from Matanzas, National Prize of Literature and one of the most important voices (not only feminine) of the present panorama of the Cuban contemporary poetry.
In the controversial prologue by R. H. Fernandez it is said that most of the studies made on the work of Oliver Labra “are lost in fascination, colors, the tropes or succumb to the spell to dream about the writer instead of touching it, and therefore the judgments are little objective”. In an introduction that I wrote for another anthology of Carilda, published about ten years ago, I indicated that odd habit to locate her in the narrow classification of "erotic poetess", an aspect that the author of the prologue vindicates by justifying, nevertheless that what I called a “distortion” when locating it in that paragraph, it is due to the fact that I make an interpretation of the associated word “to the banal sensualism”.
Perhap she is right. To turn Carilda into a myth due to her beauty, self-assurance, her lack of inhibition when touching subjects related to sexuality, has caused us to forget that other part of hers that is her excellent quality and her preoccupation by her surroundings that took her to write during the dictatorship of Batista the beautiful poem "A chant to Fidel", today an emblematic piece the civic Cuban poetry of the 20th century.
I reread the immense antologaded poems of Carilda in "A woman who writes" and I understood that her immense power of communication, in which there are no concessions to the quality of the text, make her the most read author in poetry by readers of all the ages and classes. Perhaps that power resides mainly in its authenticity, in that way to approach herself and, through that approach, to obtain the identification with a reader that recognizes her beyond which could be scandalous or of the formal and conceptual audacity in which her conscience of genre emphases and turns her into a feminist ready to awake the restlessness of the women who read her, but also that of men and, I this is one of her greater virtues, than she is away from those ghettos where many women write with an absurd aggressiveness towards the opposite sex.
Carilda Oliver Labra demonstrates us with this award that she is the most read author in Cuban libraries, that it is possible to conjugate a high literary quality and an eagerness of being understood by the diverse public. It is a lesson for certain authors who conceive the cryptic and incomprehensible language as virtues or think that the more intelligible the are, the more intelligent they are. Anyway, poets we must feel satisfied that the Cuban public, unlike what happens in other parts of the world, is able to enjoy poetry as that enriching genre that it is.
It is clear that, for this, it is necessary to have that great talent of our Carilda and to write with the sincerity of her texts, capable of getting not only into the soul but to the reader´s intellect, causing that tremor that only masterpieces produce. She deserved this award by the National Library and the her books are sold out, published by Ediciones Unión for the Cuban people.
Carilda is an author that should be always available in Cuban book stores. Her poetry, universal, provincial and Cuban, is one of the few that will not be powdered on shelves; because this woman who writes, so modest, so delicate in her deal with admirers and colleagues, is one of the great writers of Latin America and with the pass of years she becomes more essential for all the generations that will find in her work the difficult transit to the timelessness that turns her Literature into something important. Congratulations to Carilda by this award even though have passed two years since she obtained and our media had not spread the news of her incredible work.
(Taken from Granma)
Translated by: Osmany Ortiz González (Azurina)