Mirror of Patience, a poster to celebrate 400 years of Cuban Literature

January 5, 2008

In 1608, Balboa wrote the epic poem Espejo de Paciencia (Mirror of Patience), the oldest known expression of Cuban literature. In 2008, the Instituto Cubano del Libro (ICL) organized a group of cultural events during a whole year, to celebrate four houndred years of Cuban Literature. Pepe Menéndez sent me an e-mail from Havana, and I decided to send something, and end-up participating with two proposals. I was really surprised when Pepe told me I was the winner. I started sketching this idea in a Starbucks in The Loop, and a year later was printed all over the places in Havana. Even the Granma Newspaper published my name in the cultural section. Of course the didn’t say I was living in the United States. Probably, they didn’t know about it. It was kind of ironic to see me “in the Cuban news” from here. I don’t know, it was cool, but weird.

The concept of this poster was to represent the very first spot of ink of Cuban Literature. The starting point of Cuban Literature. The poem has rich descriptions of Cuban Nature, even using native words like: Biajacas (a type of fish), cotorras (parrots), Manati, Catauro (fruit baskets)… and of course Royal Palms, the Cuban natinal tree. The second choice portraits the poem as the starting piece in a sort of “domino effect” in the Cuban literary canon. This option has a second level of meaning, in Cuba this domino piece (1 / White) is called “La Puya”. “Puya” means also a sort of passive agressive insult or personal joke. So the poster was also alluding the national dillema about the authenticity of the poem. Some critics says that it was written by the end of the 19h Century, instead of 1608.

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