Arts & Culture · Poetry

Cuba: A Poet’s Perspective

Band at Monserrate for Web (by Alice Pettway)Band at Bar Monserrate in La Habana. (Credit: Alice Pettway)

The first flush began at Bar Monserrate in La Habana, just down the street from Parque Central. It rated only a couple of lines in my ragged—and slightly outdated—Lonely Planet guide, but the light tilting through the railings drew me in, and the music held me. It became apparent after a couple of nights that the musicians weren’t a band, per se; individuals rotated in and out of ensembles each night, the sound morphing toward flute and back to trumpet. But always the maracas, always the beat. And it didn’t hurt that the bartender began to bring my drink without my having to order.

Art Shop for Web (by Alice Pettway)(1)Art shop off the Plaza Major in Trinidad. (Credit: Alice Pettway)

In Trinidad, a town in central Cuba, art lined the streets and the streets were art. Pastels glided across the walls. A young woman introduced us to the work of local artists in a gallery attached to El Museo Histórico Municipal. In a stack of unframed originals, a small piece by Carlos Cesar stood out. A white booklet pasted on a cardinal background.

 “Do you know what that is?” the woman asked. “It’s a ration book.”

She explained what she thought the small word “Hope” handwritten on the cover by the artist meant, whether it was criticism or praise. She tied the art to her family. She described proudly how Cesar’s work was becoming well known in Canada. She said she thought he would become known around the world. It seemed personal. READ MORE

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  • Leslie in Oregon February 6, 2016 at 6:59 pm

    Thank you for letting us see so beautifully a bit of how Cuba nurtured your creativity, Alice.

    Reply