18 September, 2021

Radio26.Cu – Matanzas, Cuba

The Radio Station of your Heart from Matanzas, Cuba

Carilda Oliver Labra: the lyric that rises to her throat (+ audios) .

It is said that Carilda arises, when one day a collection of poems appears in the bookstores with which she obtains the 1950 National Poetry Prize. And from that moment, in her long life of 96 years, she received the most important thing for her, as confessed a day: the continuous demonstration of gratitude and love of the peoples for his literary work.

The eminent researcher Salvador Bueno wrote in the Mensuario de Arte, Literatura, Historia y Crítica, published in Havana, about South of my throat:

“The short book that Carilda Oliver Labra has just published… has received an excellent critical reception… This set of verses, gathered under that suggestive title, testifies to the presence of a young poet in Matanzas. These verses, fresh, new, participate in a youth, are, therefore, turned towards the future … “

And other more passionate ones would come in abundance.


“I would like to be simple as the wild light …”

She is a poet, writer, lawyer, journalist, teacher of drawing, painting and sculpture, how many professions did she exercise in her fruitful life. She was born in Matanzas, on July 6th, 1922 and studied at the University of Havana, where she obtained the title of Doctor of Civil Law.

Researchers of his work indicate that his first book, Lyrical Prelude, was published in Matanzas in 1943. In this selection of poems written between 1939 and 1942 a poetic beat is perceived in which, as they explain, love appeared, with its vagaries, concerns, anxiety, discouragement, successes, as well as the themes of family, grandmother, mother and father present in a painting that would never disappear from its creation.

In 1951, he was awarded the National Prize of the Hispano-American Contest, convened by the American Athenaeum of the city of Washington, to celebrate the tricentennial of Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz, and second prize to the Hernández Catá National Prize, for her story La model. In that same season, she completed her studies at the Matanzas School of Plastic Arts, which accredited her as a teacher of Drawing, Painting and Sculpture. Around 1952 she appeared in the anthology Fifty Years of Cuban Poetry, prepared by Cintio Vitier.   

From the early verses of “Al sur de miganta”, she imprinted her special stamp on Cuban lyrics with her sensual imagination and an authentic emotionality of strong national roots.

But Carilda, as a future foreshadowed since 1950 by the most prominent Cuban intellectuals, continued to write and her voice emerged in times of Patria insurgency with the Song to Fidel that marked the path of ethical duty.


“Any music suddenly rises to my throat …”

When the Revolution triumphed, since 1959 she worked as a teacher in schools in Matanzas and Cárdenas, participated in the national literacy campaign. She published in Havana, Anthology of love verses at the same time that José Sanjurjo includes it in Poetas: socials, humans and eternal in Contemporary Cuban Poetry, by Humberto López Morales, both published in Spain.

Starting in the 70s, she headed the provincial Literary Workshop in Matanzas, she collaborated with essay articles in the Girón newspaper, the Yumurí weekly and other national publications. She received tributes to his work in different latitudes and took part in different national and international competitions such as July 26, Varadero’85 Love Poetry Contest, National Poetry Forum, in addition to representing Cuba in the First Biennial of Hispano-American Poetry in Madrid. She visited Venezuela, Spain, Bulgaria, Russia and the United States. Her poems were translated into English, French, Italian, Russian, Bulgarian, Romanian, and Vietnamese.

She was elected as a member of the National Council of the Union of Writers and Artists of Cuba.

Casa de las Américas invited her as a jury for her annual prize, in the genre of poetry, among other important actions that required her presence. She received the National Prize for Literature in 1997.


“We fall in turn in front of the stars …”


It is hard to say that he has not been physically with us since August 29th, 2018.

Critics have pointed to the high place that corresponds to it within national and Ibero-American literature. His poetic spirit inspired a vast work in him. Among the most significant, in addition to those mentioned, are:

Canto a la Bandera and Canto a Martí, 1953; Canto a Matanzas, 1955; the notebooks: Memoria de la fiebre, 1958; Las sílabas y el tiempo 1983; Desaparece el polvo, 1984;  Calzada de Tirry  81, 1987; Los huesos alumbrados, 1988; Se me ha perdido un hombre, 1991 and  Error de magia, 2000.Both  her poems, and these books have been republished and anthologized in many countries.

 From Carilda Oliver Labra prominent writers have  expressed numerous criteria. 


Gabriela Mistral, Nobel Prize in Literature, pointed out of our poet: “deep as metals, hard as the plateau, her poetry, if it is disclosed with justice, will soon exercise ardent teaching in America.”

Virgilio López Lemus said of Carilda:

“True to herself, to her city and to her chosen poetic path, Carilda Oliver Labra is, literarily speaking, the best Cuban example of symbiosis between avant-garde expressive resources, neo-romanticism and colloquial poetry.”

Antonio Piedra wrote in the prologue to the Spanish edition of the poetry book Disappears the dust:

“The figure of Carilda Oliver Labra, a Cuban of rigorous observance and passionate independence, already has an important and specific chapter in twentieth-century Hispanic American poetry.”