Poets of Cuba and its diaspora come together for a rare literary event organized by O, Miami

Cuba-based poet Soleida Ríos.

In Cuba on his recent and historic visit, President Obama made it clear: Let’s bury the hatchet, build bridges and move forward together.

On Friday, April 15, O, Miami, which is supported by Knight Foundation, will do its part to normalize relations through literary culture. O, Miami is pairing four acclaimed poets living in Cuba with four acclaimed Cuban-American poets living in the United States for an event called Building Bridges: New Encounters in Cuban Poetry. The reading and discussion panel will feature Cuba-based poets Oscar Cruz, José Ramón Sánchez, Soleida Ríos and Marcelo Morales, and U.S.-based poets Legna Rodríguez Iglesias, Yosie Crespo, Carlos Pintado and Joaquín Badajoz.

Cuba-based poet Marcelo Morales.

Organized by writer and “Jai-Alai” magazine editor J.V. Portela, the event is an opportunity for the poets to share their latest work, as well as engage in a discussion about the state of Cuban poetry and changes in U.S.-Cuba relations.

“This event is the first official encounter in the United States between these poets since the advent of the Cuban Revolution in 1959 imposed a decades-long divide between the nation and its diaspora. If nothing else, this reading is a testament to the power of connection, contact and collaboration to overcome even the most deeply entrenched divides,” Portela said. “Whatever their internal logic, every wall that separates us must be brought down, and the one that has split Cuban literature in two is certainly no exception. Building Bridges was the first brick off that wall. We know it won’t be the last.”

U.S.-based poet Yosie Crespo.

Bridge-building between our two cultures isn’t new, but this event is a significant historical moment in Cuban-American poetic relations. No one knows for certain what will happen politically between our two nations (except maybe the Castro brothers). The course of history is inherently unpredictable. However, O, Miami, along with several local institutions, is cultivating “una rosa blanca” between our two cultures, a peaceful symbol that will certainly outlive the physical divide between us.

Building Bridges: New Encounters in Cuban Poetry will take place on April 15 at 7 p.m. at Colonial Florida Cultural and Convention Center (3220 N.W. Seventh Ave., Miami).