"A vision from the spirit, anchored in the power of the poetic word to transcend the suffering--and even the annihilation--of the individual."--Reinaldo Sanchez, Florida International University
"A panoramic view of Cuban cultural history under Castro's dictatorship . . . written with the urgency of a first-hand account by a person who lived those years under incredible hardships."--Ana Maria Fagundo, University of California at Riverside
Angel Cuadra was a prisoner of conscience, sentenced to one of Castro's gulags in 1967 for conspiracy. He became a forgotten man in his own country, expunged from contemporary Cuban letters.
As a young literary figure and anti-Batista conspirator in the fifties, Cuadra participated both in the arts and in politics. In the flush of Batista's downfall, Cuadra enjoyed a moment of recognition as an international spokesman for Castro's successful revolution and as a popular and widely translated poet. At the same time he became a government lawyer, a helpful cover when he renewed his underground activities. A short time after Castro's triumph, the artists and writers who participated in the original revolution reappraised the new government, soon establishing a new resistance. Writing under the pen name of Alejandro Almanza, Cuadra became one of the movement's leaders.
Cuadra was released from prison in 1982 after serving his full sentence. Now a part of the Cuban intellectual community in exile in Miami, he works as an international jurist concerned with political prisoners. Cuadra continues to write; in 1988 he received an award from the government of Spain for his love poems and in 1990 received special recognition for his poetry from President Vaclav Havel of Czechoslovakia.
This volume includes three of Cuadra's works in translation. The essay "Writers in Socialist Cuba" describes his final three years in Cuba when he was free from prison but forbidden to leave the country. He tells of attempts to adjust to his beloved Havana, of reunions with friends and not-so-well wishers, and of existence in the Castro years when all hope for a better life had evaporated. A recent postscript gives his impressions of the Cuban artistic and intellectual climate since the mid-eighties. A Correspondence of Poems (from Jail) presents Cuadra's poetic letters to the exiled Cuban poet Juana Rosa Pita. Befitting its lyrical spirit, the poetry included here was smuggled out of prison in a musical instrument. The third section includes excerpts from a 1963-64 essay and a collection of poetry criticizing the Castro regime, published by the underground resistance movement called UNARE.
Warren Hampton is associate professor of modern languages at the University of South Florida, Tampa. He was born and educated in Cuba and has written many articles and reviews on Peninsular, Brazilian, and Cuban literary topics. He is the coeditor of the Spanish version of Spanish Pathways in Florida.
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