Sunday, December 21, 2008

Aimless Reading: The A's, Part 22

Arrufat, Antón
El Viejo Carpintero


Antón Arrufat is a playwright and poet I met in Havana. Being a lifelong resident of that city, he served as a great guide when we visited. He has a remarkable history: having left Cuba to live in the states in the late 50's, he returned after the revolution and became one of the more well-known playwrights in the country. 

In the late 60's or early 70's, he wrote a play that satirized Marxism-Leninism. The play irked the censors and was banned, and has not to this day been performed. He then went through a period in which he was basically unable to stage his plays or publish his books. Instead, he shelved books in a library for 14 years. Rather than leave the country, he stayed, suffering further persecution in the 80's for his homosexuality, when he lost his job as editor of Casa de las America's for publishing a poem with homosexual content. By the time we had a arrived, he had been "rehabilitated" and had the year before been awarded the National Literature Prize.

Here's a quick translation of the short poem that begins the book:

In The Mosaic of a Table

Just now, as you lean,
the humidity of the glass
makes the grout transparent:
cheers, traveler:
we see one another for an instant

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