Dulce María Loynaz

La Habana, Cuba, 1902-1997

Dulce María Loynaz is often remembered sitting in her rocking chair in her house in Havana. A poet, a survivor, she read Law at university but did not practice. She travelled the world in her youth but she never abandoned the family home in Cuba. Her house and her garden became a sort of destiny: her particular form of inner exile. Precursor of magic realism, her poetry and her petyc prose cannot be understood without her chosen way of living, in isolation.


I do not think I am a genius, nor do I fully appreciate anything I do until it is appreciated by others who are in a better position to do so.
The great Cuban poet Dulce María Loynaz considered writing a letter as difficult a challenge as writing a poem. In both cases there is a dialogue that happens inside her mind and that turns her message into more than just a piece of paper sent inside an envelope. Una carta sirve para interpelar y ahuyentar el olvido. La carta lo es al ser recibida. A su pregunta final respondemos sí. Y escuchamos
I am a survivor, which is the saddest thing you can be in life. And I am a survivor to such an extent that I have survived myself.
There were so many things Dulce María Loynaz wanted but could not have in the 1970s and 1980s, tough years in the Castro regime. It is difficult to be a poet when you lack the little things that make life and writing possible, those things that make life pleasand and even livable. A biscuit, sweeties, a pen, needle and thread to mend clothes, aspirins, stock cubes… when you do not even have paper to write verses on you cannot call yourself a poet.
My solitude is almost perfect: that of an anchorite, but without mystical delights. My state of mind prefers silence.
A young lady coming from a wealthy family, who made a grand tour, belle époque style, is now an elderly lady. Fragile though she make look, she is strong as steel. She collected fans and kept an exuberant garden. Sitting in her rocking chair, she communicates solitude and silence inscribed in a small body that has become used to scarcity and in a strong soul, both body and soul protected by the mansion, the garden and the island that she, in the end, would become her destiny.

ACTRESS: Leila Arias | SOURCE: Patronato Carmen Conde-Antonio Oliver Archive | DIRECTED BY: Nuria Capdevila-Argüelles | SCRIPT: Fran Garcerá, Nuria Capdevila-Argüelles | PRODUCTION: Isabel Santafé, Nuria Capdevila-Argüelles | CASTING: Cervantes Theatre | ARTISTIC DESIGN: Lucy Richards | COSTUME: O.La.La Vintage Wardrobe | HAIR & MAKE-UP: Charo Hairdressing | POSTPRODUCTION: Luke Hagan, Jonas Hawkins | SOUND: Luke Robinson | SET MANAGER: Anastasia Bruce Jones | CAMERAS: Luke Hagan, Samuel Walker | EDITING: Ashley Thorpe | STILL PHOTOGRAPHY: Isabel Santafé | TRANSLATION: Alice Woodward-Smith | VOICE ARROZ CON LECHE: Lisa Campos Sánchez