ALWAYS REBELLIOUS / CIMARRONEANDO
Selected Poetry by Georgina Herrera / Poemas Escogidos de Georgina Herrera
By Georgina Herrera
Translated by María Rodriguez-Alcalá, Juanamaría Cordones-Cook and Alexander Michael Cordones Cook
Just released in 2014
This bilingual volume of poetry introduces the unique voice of Cuban writer Georgina Herrera.
Of African descent, Georgina Herrera (April 23, 1936–) was born in Jovellanos, the capital of Matanzas, to a family with great pride in its racial pedigree. From an uneducated background, she was brought up in an environment lacking in basic material resources, let alone books. This home was controlled by a repressive patriarchal hand with rules of obedience that discouraged thinking, and therefore, by extension, incomprehensive of this daughter’s rebellious spirited and poetic inclination. In any case, Georgina never considered submission a viable alternative. Authoritarian parenting could not contain her creative genius nor tame her independent spirit. It prompted within her a contrarian reaction, fanning an irrepressible cimarron rebelliousness that would lead the poet to express an overflowing creativity.
Eliseo Diego calls Herrera's work poetry of origin, pain, heartbreak, and consolation. With a lyrical voice, the poet uncovers her most intimate self, with her loves, her fears, her pains and her orphanhood. In a process of sublimation, Herrera manages to transform her pain into central aesthetic components of her work, which point to the legacy of sorrow and sacrifice inherited from the 16th century.
Though she indeed has suffered, Georgina Herrera possesses courage, energy, and a penetrating intelligence accompanied by a profound sense of dignity and an age-old wisdom that enable her to "take to the hills" and run away in order to go on and tell us of both "the truths" of her cultural memory and those of her mind, of her soul, and of her vast experience accumulated in 75 years full of anxiety, exclusion, violence, and discrimination.
With a terse but disquieting voice, Georgina Herrera assumes the power of the written word, which, as she has expressed before, embodies all at once the "contrast of light and shade," of dream and truth, of fire and water. At the end, her self-definition is intimately related to validation of dignity and empowerment. It challenges the representation imposed upon the black woman, replacing it with positive images and becoming a dynamic source of power.
"Georgina Herrera continues in our midst as on of the deepest roots of feminine lyrical creation in Cuba. Her poetry of origin, pain, heartbreak, and consolation, like that of Avellaneda and Luisa Pérez de Zambrana in the previous century, is the center of this chapter—perhaps too full of tenderness—that rises out of the literary panorama as a beautiful enigma."
Eliseo Alberto Diego
Havana, Cuba Internacional, December 1974