Gaztelu and Carlos Jesus: the honest simplicity of poetry

By: Miguel Terry Valdespino

Conversando con Monseñor Carlos Manuel de Céspedes en el Taller Orígenes en Bauta.
Conversando con Monseñor Carlos Manuel de Céspedes en el Taller Orígenes en Bauta.

Juan de Dios Mariño Photos

Drawing by Denys San Jorge

Just founded the new province of Artemis, in January 2011, the new cultural institutions in this territory began to oxygenate literary and artistic promotion in each of its municipalities, for which they delegated the reins of this promotion to several of their most recognized living literary figures.

From this intention were born projects such as Fabulando con los Escribas, Sin Azúcar, De Puño y Letra, Mezcla, Brindis con Jordán y Tarde de Pueblo, the latter led by the poet, narrator and critic baptized Carlos Jesús Cabrera Enríquez, who died at the young age of 54 years and in full creative maturity.

Interestingly, of all the aforementioned, it is the late village talk that takes its name from a literary work, in this case the poem of the same name of the priest Angel Gaztelu Gorriti, spiritual leader also of the renowned Grupo Orígenes, composed of figures of the likes of Cintio Vitier, Fina García-Marruz, José Lezama Lima and Gastón Baquero, among others, who under his light (not in his shadow) , in the church of Nuestra Señora de la Merced and other grounds of Bauta, they broadened their spiritual vision not only with regard to religion and culture, but also in terms of the destiny of the Cuban nation.

Sencillo y profundamente cultural: así fue el poeta Carlos Jesús Cabrera.
Simple and deeply cultural: this is how the poet Carlos Jesús Cabrera was.

It was curious, but not surprising, that Carlos Jesús, winner of the José Manuel Poveda National Poetry Prize and the international Nicolás Guillén in Mexico, chose to name his itinerant rock a work of such lyrical simplicity, included by Cintio, along with another piece by Gaztelu, “Prayer and Meditation of the Night”, in his anthology The best Cuban poetry.

“Afternoon of people, essence of Cubanía,” writes Carlos Jesús in his book of articles on art and culture A title (Unicorn publishing house) is inspired by Caimito, where the priest also exercised for several years: There the thick and vain peasant aroma /tucked and distant, guest of the amazement / is spacious depout of fertile delight / surprise the last light to the last by the people.

It would not be idle to point out that “Late village” belongs to the book Gradual de laudes, with prologue by Lezama and illustrations by René Portocarrero, where Gaztelu’s poetic sensibility is galloped into tenths, sonnets, romances, songs, glosses and free verses.

Simplicity in the poetic style and everyday existence used to dazzle Charles, who, in the face of the slightest praise of his person, chose to slip discreetly (sometimes nervously) while at the bottom of his heart begged for such praise to cease.

To a writer with such characteristics, Gaztelu gave two ideal pretexts to name his rock: the simplicity of the poetic image already mentioned and the declaration of love for a space of residence that the inhabitant of the great city sometimes detests, minimizes or does not know in its essence.

But The relationship of Carlos Jesús with the life and work of the priest Angel Gaztelu is not limited to this frugal homage, nor to his various interventions in the Workshop Origins to talk about this figure, born in Spain, but with deep roots in Cuba. No. Carlos Jesús is one of those critics who with great patience and lucidity has stopped at Gaztelu’s social work and lyrical proposals, as Lezama, Cintio and José Prats Sariol stopped at the time.

No pocas valoraciones dedicó a la vida y a la obra del presbítero Ángel Gaztelu.
Not a few assessments devoted to the life and work of priest Angel Gaztelu.

Releyendo precisely Seeks a title, where nearly thirty assessments of Charles are grouped around the contributions of various musicians, painters, sculptors, poets… Cubans and foreigners, I found repeated allusions to the priest Gaztelu, either when the author of the book enters to tell the adventure of the group Origins in Bauta, as when he travels through the veins of the poetry of Fina García-Marruz or stops at the magnificent cultural contribution of the writers of his terroir, among whom he quotes, unreservedly, Angel Gaztelu Gorriti.

In addition to his talent, especially in poetry, I always admired in Carlos Jesus his deep literary culture. I remember that, in presentations by resume authors as enjoined as the novelist Daniel Chavarría, he was able to stop at each of his titles and undertake an accurate assessment of each of them, as I saw him do with the work of authors such as Eliseo Diego, Eduardo Heras León and Senel Paz.

Carlos left us several narrative titles such as Eddy Rey, The Crying of the Harpist, With Velvet Paws and This Was Your Desire, and Two Poetry: The Transparent Meat (Poveda Prize) and The Anonymous Restaurateur, with which he won the Nicolás Guillén International Prize, a notebook where he was able to turn into a lyrical event what years later would be the major feast of a Cuban humorous program : the products in the supply book, only between visions, the difference is substantive.

Carlos Jesús Cabrera Enríquez, a man and writer of absolute honesty, never lacked the encouragement to praise the writing of others, never lost his delicacy in treating those beings who possessed little literary talent, but who were convinced otherwise. He lived praising simplicity and singing to him as a poet whenever possible.

It was almost unthinkable then that a poem such as “Late People” and a work as human and spiritual as That of Father Angel Gaztelu passed unnoticed before his eyes. and in front of his pen.

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