The Choice of the Official Cuban Writer Nancy Morejon To Preside Over the Poetry Market Is Criticized

In addition to attending the inauguration, Morejón has planned two presentations on Caribbean poetry for June 7 and 10. (Captura)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Havana, 25 May 2023 — The Cuban writer Jacobo Machover criticized the election of the official poet Nancy Morejón as honorary president of the Poetry Market, an important literary event held annually in Paris since 1983. Through a review of the history of support for the regime that has characterized Morejón, the professor also argues that it is a “crazy” decision, which will undermine the reputation of the event.

Held from June 7 to 12 in the Saint-Sulpice square of the French capital, the Poetry Market will be inaugurated by Morejón, whom the official site of the event characterizes as a “translator of French and French-speaking poetry,” in addition to being the winner of several distinctions, some of them awarded by institutions in France.

In an open letter to the organizers, Machover points out that Morejón is aligned with the “the dictatorial regime prevailing in Cuba” and is part of its “cultural authorities.” In addition, she is director of the magazine Unión, organ of the “very official” Union of Writers and Artists of Cuba (UNEAC), which “only admits into its ranks the intellectuals close to power and from which all dissidents or critics are mercilessly excluded,” he says.

As part of UNEAC, Morejón has been a signatory of several documents of loyalty to the regime, the most recent of them, recalls Machover, is the “Message of Cuban educators, journalists, writers, artists and scientists to their colleagues from other countries,” signed in October 2022, in which the poet’s signature appears in sixth place.

In that text — supported by, among others, the “official biographer of Fidel Castro and the Venezuelan Hugo Chávez,” the Spanish-French journalist Ignacio Ramonet — she expressed her full support for the Government, in addition to alleging the non-existence of repression by the authorities, a situation described as “a distortion of our reality.”

Machover reflects on the “truth about Cuba” that the UNEAC message defended, saying that the signatories hide the existence of “more than a thousand political prisoners detained following or on the sidelines of the peaceful demonstrations that took place on July 11 and 12, 2021 throughout the country.”

“Among the people imprisoned and sentenced to insane sentences are several brave artists, writers and poets, who refuse to abide by the obligation of everyone, intellectuals or the ’people’s people’, to dedicate themselves to permanently praising the regime,” adds the professor, who points out Morejón’s “custom” of signing this type of document, which justifies “the worst governmental crimes.”

Another letter that the poet signed twenty years ago, says Machover, was the one that justified the arrest and conviction of 75 dissidents, several of them writers, during the so-called Black Spring of 2003. Among them was the poet Raúl Rivero, whom Machover has translated and published in French. In addition, the document intended for the “peoples of the world” validated the execution of three young people who had tried to escape from Cuba by hijacking the small ferry boat of Regla.

One day after the protests of July 11, 2021, the Ministry of Culture had several intellectuals appear on Cuban Television to denounce the demonstrators. Morejón then said: “These events of yesterday, unacceptable, condemnable in every way, are part of an old pandemic as terrible as this one that plagues us (Covid-19): that of the empire.”

The writer points out that Morejón “is nothing more than an accomplice and propagandist of the Castro regime, which has prevailed for more than 64 years,” and her honorary presidency in the Poetry Market insults “freedom of expression throughout the world,” which the event defends.

“I demand that this error be corrected and that the poet Nancy Morejón be removed from the honorary title that has been improperly attributed to her. That act would contribute to the freedom of Cuba and, of course, of its poetry and literature, which constitute the common heritage of all writers and poets throughout the world,” concludes Machover.

The Poetry Market, created in 1983 by the editor Jean-Michel Place and the critic Arlette Albert-Birot, summons poets and publishers from all over the world every spring in Paris. It is currently organized by c/i/r/c/e, a French association dedicated to literary, critical and artistic studies. In addition to attending the inauguration, Morejón has planned two presentations, on June 7 and 10, on Caribbean poetry,

Translated by Regina Anavy


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