Cubanet, Luis Cino Alvarez, Havana, 20 June 2018 — The writer Rafael Alcides, who died in Havana on June 19 at the age of 85, had a warehouse of novels and unpublished poems in his home. It had been more than three decades since a book of his was published in his homeland. First it was because the commissars, unable to make him submit, did not want to publish him. Then, it was Alcides who did not want to be published. He made it clear: he said he would not accept it until the day his books could be in Cuban bookstores along with those of all the Cuban authors prohibited by the regime.
He resisted fearlessly, without losing heart. And, industrious and stubborn as he was, without failing to write for a single day.
The author of Agradecido como un perro (Grateful as a Dog) had the stubborn patience of poets, who do not rush because they know themselves to be the absolute owners of time and words.
Born in 1933 in Barrancas, a remote hamlet in eastern Cuba, Rafael Alcides was one of the main colloquialist poets of the so-called ’50s generation.
Once he believed in the Revolution. But poets, if that is what they really are, can not sing in the chorus. The praise bores them. They are reluctant to follow orders and commands, they do not accommodate themselves nor fit within the battalion of the submissive. And that is why he broke with the confining official culture and stepped aside, to witness the sad parade of the mediocre, servile and coryphaeus. He continued to listen to “the rumor of what life was before the future came,” warning that “nothing is as we supposed.”
His time of vain illusions passed, converted into ashes, without smoke or grudges. The poet did not answer to illusions. He lived between the past and the future, warning — he said in verses — that: “Everything we had we lost and it was more than we could have.”
He spent his last years surrounded by the affection of his loved ones, at peace with his demons, without fear, decent, unwavering.
I had the privilege of enjoying the friendship of Rafael Alcides. I used to visit him in the small apartment in Nuevo Vedado he shared with his wife, blogger Regina Coyula and her son. His conversation, always lucid and interesting, never ceased to inspire courage. Not even when cancer was about to win the game.
Rest in peace Rafael Alcides, if the souls of poets can ever resign themselves to rest and stop dreaming.