30 Jun Memory of the Future: Cuban ‘insiles’
Translating Cuba —
Regina Coyula, 30 June 2018 — Alcides was not a censored one (although undoubtedly he would have been), but a quarter of a century ago, by his own will, he insiled [remained inside of Cuba] himself from Cuba’s cultural life. As part of that insile, he did not let himself be seduced by the national literature prize about fifteen years ago.
He felt rewarded knowing that his book Agradecido como un perro (Grateful as a Dog) was exchanged for cigarettes in the Combinado del Este prison in the late eighties, that it traveled in a plastic bag with the scarce possessions of a rafter, or was requested in the neighborhood; that kids would arrive from all over the country who discovered in a bookstore second hand.
His contraband books are now collectors’ items. Given that Alcides was a writer, virtually unknown to the youngest Cuban adults in the 1980s, his books would have vanished into obscurity after 1990, if not for the Sevillian, Spaniard editor Abelardo Linares knocking on the door one day. In addition, Albertico Rodríguez from Tosca, Colombia helped distribute Alcides’ books to various locales outside of Cuba. A number of these books circulated in Logroño, Spain.
Alcides was unable to leave his house to meet a celebrities and other people with a platform who could promote his ideals. Nonetheless, many people who knew him will remember Alcides as being an extraordinary host, to both friends and recent arrivals. He lived as a poet, and he saw poetry in everyday life. Some of his verses were saved for posterity. Poetry driven away, he dedicated himself to to finishing enormous drafts of novels left in the pipeline in the hurry to live, and now left to me, filled with notes for a huge job ahead.
Many thanks to all of you who have sent me your admiration and regret.
— Regina Coyula