Luis Carbonell and the Vitality of Poetry

Luis Carbonell and the Vitality of Poetry

What is a stereotype at its essence? A reduction. Complexity acclimatized in the presence of personal and collective logic to affirm common sense as the least common of senses.

In such a scenario, it is useless to reduce certain aspects of the life and work of Luis Carbonell. The watercolorist of Antillean poetry stood out for his multiplicity of roles and tasks, deserving of respect and admiration against the backdrop of vicissitudes and challenges, and with the experience deposited by time in a humble and wonderful being like him.

«He left a discography that allows for the enjoyment and appreciation of his voice. He traveled… and without realizing it, he not only became an international artist, but also one of the artists who in life lived —to his regret, because he was a very simple person— his legend,» said the researcher and essayist Leonardo Depestre.

Those who have listened to his performances can appreciate the ductile and precise words of Maestro Carbonell. After his words, the poems took on an ulterior meaning and the songs had a special addition. Affirmed in Antillean poetry, he evolved into a repertoire of reference established in the immediate world of his interpretations, far from judicious reductions and limiting preludes of conformism.

For Reynaldo González, writer, essayist, and National Literature Prize winner, Carbonell’s ambitious projects transcended the self-complacent and narcotic reiteration of the media. He refused to be just a symbol of a surpassed sensitivity and of a stage left behind by reality, and he did not resign himself to being the outdated starlet with retouches, amidst condescending praise and inevitable yawns:

«In the presence of Luis Carbonell on stage, in records, on television, Luis Carbonell rebelled against ridiculous behavior, from the sublime to the ridiculous. He did not resort to the almost masochistic trend of overvaluing the past; his arrival on the stage has always been present. His authenticity has been based on the nonconformity of the true artist. That is why he does not belong to nostalgia.»

His recreations not only add value to the interpreted works: «A fervent admirer of poetry, and especially of Nicolás Guillén’s, Carbonell gradually discovered other relevant figures such as the Cubans Emilio Ballagas, José Zacarías Tallet, Félix B. Caignet, the Chilean Pablo Neruda, the Venezuelans Manuel Rodríguez Cárdenas and Aquiles Nazoa, the Puerto Rican Luis Palés Matos, the Spaniards Federico García Lorca and Alfonso Camín… turning the work of each of them into an unrepeatable creation,» says Depestre.

In the unwavering gaze of time, the memory of Luis Mariano Carbonell deserves more than a mere tribute, words of praise, or a formal tribute. Therefore, perhaps it is necessary to remember more frequently the passage through the world and through this land of the one who taught us, with mastery and elegance, the vitality of poetry, beyond time and our reality.

Translated by Luis E. Amador Dominguez


Lázaro Hernández Rey