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To the death of the poet

To the death of the poet

The renowned Cuban poet and thinker Roberto Fernández Retamar has died in Havana at age 89.

There are many reasons to remember him with emotion and gratitude; first for the poet that was, for those verses dedicated to so many people, and to so many appreciable things in life; then as an ideologist of culture in its broadest spectrum and as leader of determining institutions such as the Martian Studies Center and the House of the Americas.

In all these aspects of his life, he showed himself as a patriot, and this is the great motive. In each poem, essay, study, intervention, or speech, he radically defended the Cuban culture, the true one, the one that demands depth of thought and accurate and humanistic analysis.

And he protected, as an essential cultural element, the Spanish language before and after being a member, occupying the letter K armchair, and presiding, the Cuban Academy of Language.

Those who had the great joy of being their students will be able to remember today, those little moments when the teacher grew up in the classroom and the admiration was born. In 1954 he received a Ph.D. in Philosophy and Letters from the University of Havana, where he was a professor since 1955 and appointed in 1995 Professor Emeritus.

He was also an honorary professor at the University of San Marcos, in Lima, and an honorary doctorate from the universities, Central de Las Villas, Sofia and Buenos Aires.


Mr. José Carlos de Santiago, President of the Excelencias Group, presents the Excelencias Award to Roberto Fernández Retamar
Mr. José Carlos de Santiago, President of the Excelencias Group, presents the Excelencias Award to Roberto Fernández Retamar


He received the National Prize for Literature in 1989 and the list of Cuban and foreign distinctions that he just received is very extensive, among them the Excellencies Award, but the biggest one was undoubtedly the respect that the Cuban intelligentsia and society always expressed to him.

He was a busy director and contributor to multiple newspapers and magazines, from Cuba and from countries in America and Europe. Among others, and since 1951, from the journal Origins; between 1959 and 1960 he directed the New Cuban Magazine; He founded in 1962 and co-directed until 1964, together with Nicolás Guillén, Alejo Carpentier and José Rodríguez Feo, Unión magazine, of the Union of Writers and Artists of Cuba and in 1965 he began to direct the magazine Casa de las Américas.

Between 1998 and 2013 he was a deputy to the National Assembly of Popular Power and a member of the Cuban State Council.

His ashes will go to the sea he loved so much. He leaves us a huge literary flow; a vast cultural work; his image and his voice, his beautiful voice, which is not difficult to remember if he evokes some of his poems that nobody will ever read like himself.

You can, today, fatally, repeat for him the words he said to the death of the Barbarian of the rhythm in his poem "Hearing a Benny Moré record":


"It's the same as always:

So this man is dead!

So this voice

Thin as the wind, hungry and hurricane like

Like the wind,

It's nobody's voice!

So this voice lives longer than its man (…) »