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Irina Echarry: I enjoy reading, going to the movies and spending time with my friends. Many of the people I love are dead, or are no longer in Cuba. I will do my best to transmit my thoughts, ideas or worries via these pages so you can get to know me. I will give an idea of my age, since it helps explain certain things. I’m over thirty-five, and I think that’s enough information. I don’t have any children yet, or nieces or nephews. There are days when I transform myself into a child with no age at all in order to see life from another angle. It helps me break the monotony and survive in this strange world.

The Event: “Another Poet Commits Suicide”

October 22, 2017 |

By Irina Echarry

HAVANA TIMES – Death is terrible. Suicide generates a sense of uncertainty and rejection among people. Historically Cuba has had a high suicide rate; ranking second among Latin American countries; but we do not know how to deal with it.

On Friday, October 20, National Culture Day, an event called Another poet commits suicide was inaugurated, prepared by the Museum of Dissidence in Cuba and Amaury Pacheco, founder of OMNI Zona Franca. Today, Sunday October 22nd is the final day.

The start caused quite a commotion on San Isidro Street in Old Havana: A man hanged!  People came to watch the morning show, until little by little they realized that it was a performance.

The organizers wanted to invoke the memory of the creator of The Birds Written, Vegas Town and Different Ways to Dig a Tunnel, the last Cuban suicide poet: Juan Carlos Flores. Just a year ago the news of his death ran through social networks and the streets of Alamar, arousing many questions among people.

For three days in a row, a parade of contemporary poets, narrators, DJs, singers and musicians will read and perform competing with the habitual noise of Calle Damas, between San Isidro and Avenida del Puerto*. Nothing better than a tribute to suicide in a place full of life; that could cause people to lose their fear of that way of dying, to relate to it.

The event includes lectures, testimonies, poetry recitals, concerts, open microphone, Spoken Word interventions, performance. It will be the propitious moment to approach the life and work not only of Juan Carlos, but of Angel Escobar, Raul Hernandez Novas, Carlos Victoria, Guillermo Rosales, Miguel Collazo or Calvert Casey, writers with a solid literary creation, who also decided to take their own lives.

In a small room of the house personal objects of Juan Carlos Flores are exposed. It might seem a bit morbid to go through the photos in the Blue Castle; see the figure of Buddha that he put behind him so he would not look at him. Or discover the image of the little prince in the bathroom, which he chose to hang himself, even if a broken window prevented him and he decided to move to the balcony. These scenes, plus the voice of the poet declaiming with his personal style, make a great impression; he seems to be hiding somewhere nearby.

Why does someone decide to stop living? Why do poets commit suicide? Is there an explanation or are there multiple reasons? Is suicide the product of a raptus of madness or can it come out of a deep reflection on the meaning of life?

Perhaps these questions are never answered, perhaps the poets prefer to leave them in the air, reviving the imagination, uplifting the spirit. Perhaps with this event, we can try to find some possible answer, in short, poetry can save us from everything. Or not?

*Headquarters of the Museum of Dissidence in Cuba

Photos: from the Facebook page of Yanelys Nunez Leyva

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  • bbenhamid

    Sad indeed, especially for his friends whom he left behind.