words by Adis González Sánchez
It is licit to violate a culture
But with the condition to make a son.
Simone de Beauvoir
Domos magicvs is part of the distinctive lyrical succession of Jesus Lara Sotelo’s literary work. The collection of poems opens its doors to receive who would become accomplice readers with one question, tricky maybe?: “I live in an island. What’s so important about that?”
What can be so important about the place where you always go back to, not only to the physical space, surrounded by water, but to the poetic and substantial spirituality? There is always something to tell about the island despite the water that isolate it and surround it, despite the mediocre and intangible aspects. In the first pages of the collection of poems, to resort to the critical debates about the borders from where they are created or are better done, opens a reflection:
(…) it does not matter to die if you are born every day in each word
Such a torture
To mediocre people with their curious fees.
I speak about the intangible, of those who are not born
And by inheritance they die every day, imagining to be a giver (…)
The use of a word game honors the stylistic beauty that accompanies the poems in Domos… Suplica de los goznes answers to his question, the maker resides in the artery of the genius, he is not surrounded by water but by an indecipherable substance that will always keep him being born as an eternal investigator.
Investigator is the role that plays the lyrical subject of poetic action; the entire collection of poem is a “vital and indispensable adventure”, as it was called by maestro Cesar Lopez in his prologue. This way Trece cebras bajo la llovizna, his latest inspiration, completes the trip started with Domos…and why not, the road started with the previous collections of poems Alicia y las Odas prusianas and ¿Quién eres tú, God de Magod?
Domos magicvs is then the point of maturity; it establishes a dialogue with the forms of creating and thinking poetry.
The thematic variety understands the unity sense of the book, a style developed in his posterior writing. Domos magicvs is capable of receiving the creation as it comes; themes such as eroticism, love, fear, or invitation to constant reflections fill its pages. It delves into the interstices of the human soul:
Let’s see then, the passion that rouses in us.
We play with fire; the human soul is vulnerable to the flames when the balance of power is lost.
The human behavior has always been protagonist in Lara’s work, from his painting and sculpture, and in this time it is seen through the word, in his proposal titled Prados de suplicios en blandas lagrimas.
Interesting are the titles of these poems like the paratexts that accompany them, where is quite noticeable the presence of music, revelation of the author’s cultural experience: Martianos, dedicated to Noel Nicola, Trafago de junio, to Leo Brouwer, Cicuta de trovador, to Silvio Rodriguez, Interprete de la eternidad, to Frank Fernandez, Sospechosos por respirar, to Rufo Caballero and Vivir entre puños sangrientos, to Pablo Milanes. The pages dance among songs, love, eternal performers and trova music. These names have a special importance in the author’s life since they have led his personal and intellectual growth.
Another group of titles reveal the presence of the intertextual. They refer to biblical motives, the Greco-Roman culture and other paths: Menos panes mas palabras, Marco Aurelio y la celebridad del dador, Felices los que hienden. This last one shows the attachment to the anthological texts in literature in our country. It is direct, in the title, the remission to a poem by Roberto Fernandez Retamar named Felices los normales. While in Retamar’s the lyrical subject tries to contrast how much we need the so called normal people against those who makes worlds and dreams, then Lara prefers to allude to the truth: “Where are the men that seek within// the truth his tortured gospel for evasion?”
Intertextual nature is highlighted in Lara’s work not only by the cultural references of the western world, but also for the references to his own prior work. The very own poems dedicated to great personalities of the Cuban music complete a tribute started in canvas.
The lyrical subject walks away from irony, in order to aim directly, harshly and strictly from the critic to mediocrity. The reject to this stylistic resource marks in Lara’s writing a rupture with many of the Cuban contemporary poems: “(…) there is mediocrity in the effervescence of time,// because it is impossible to reconcile calm behind (…); “Deny me the deep water of mediocrity”. There are no few verses that refer the urgency to overcome what’s empty:
No benefits for the doubtful and the source of horror.
Today, I will live in so many ways as star have the choice
They are countless, they can shoot them all, an over-lived life is the joy
Of living! I have 50 plays behind mediocre people, just
One thing is not yet clear to me: would I have to be so abstracted
from the world to see in action all the genres of dramatic art?
The poetic emphasis in escaping insufficiencies, living on the edge, and experiencing the ecstasies recalls not just a few written texts by poets like Ruben Dario or Jose Marti, fathers of Latin American modernism, both of them reflected upon the artist’s condition before society. In the poetry made by the three of them beats the author’s voice. The first person singular prevails in As de coartadas, by Jesus Lara:
I called myself Nabucodonosor, the atavistic one.
The almighty of silence correcting dialects.
Because the ideal is decadent as the arrogance of triumph.
Be an accuser, because there is an invisible nation
And another one, very much outside, far away from the slogans
Just like Rome my aphorisms were burnt,
I forgot that whoever gets to know owes his head.
There are not few parallelisms that can be established between Lara and Dario’s poetry. Not only the escapism from deficiency, but the cultural sources form which he drinks is common to both creators. Each one belongs to different spaces and times, and they express in their verses the prints of the knowledge from Greek and Roman culture: the centaur and the Minotaur become symbolic figures in their writings. It is not ridiculous to state that another of the main influences the author of Domos magicvs has had it is the Nicaraguan poet’s poetry:
Although the unity in Domos magicvs resides in its stylistic and thematic diversity, there is a path that marks the artistic trajectory of the writer, painter and sculptor. The eroticism outlines almost the entire part of his production. From 108 poems, in this book, a great number of them directly touches or in any other way the sexuality and its sensuality: “(…) I am acclaimed by one thousand women,// those who join me to the most temerarious of all games”. He insists on the word game that makes his poetry even more interesting and deep. Through a paradox he combines the contrary connotations that own two words: temerarious and games. A marked interest is appreciated in his style when trying to exchange the conventional senses attributed to certain words.
The erotic aspect is not limited in the book to only mentioning feminine beauty, or describing sexual actions, as in the verses: “I will whip your thighs with hummingbird’s feathers, // I will engrave with tongues the doors of the salt empire (…)” but it is also enjoyed the use of rhetorical figures; the night is given certain human characteristics in the poem Banderillero: “The night has cancer in its horrific breasts”.
In Piedras de rebote he stands out another chant that supports the erotic aspect and it is seen from rejection:
I wish the flu fornicate me so I don’t have to make love to you
I don’t deserve to make such sacrifice. Don’t you think?
I prefer the demons of the sunset to you watching me sleep.
Martin Heidegger underlines the moment of ecstasy produced when something moves away from its standing as one thing to become another; this author relates poiesis with the reviving of a blossom, with illumination. Poiesis is a Greek term that means creation, its origin ποιέω, to make or to create. Plato defines in Symposium the term poiesis as “the cause that turns everything we consider from not being to being”. It is a way of knowledge.
Domos magicvs is the speaker of an admirable and nothing trivial variety of lyrical poetry. While he displays his talent as a creator, this collection of poems is at the same time a link with his prior and posterior work; it sets a standard in the evolution of the creator, another step in the writing maturity. As a bridge among his previous works and Trece cebras bajo la llovizna it completes the vision we might have about Jesus Lara Sotelo’s poetry.