Early 21st Century Cuban Poets: Dashel Hernández Guirado

Introductory Note by Dr. Yoandy Cabrera

Dashel Hernández Guirado has published three collections of poems. His poetry moves between elements of Neo-romanticism, an enormous degree of expressiveness and fluidity, parody, metalinguistics, and culturalism. For Hernández, there is, essentially, a cherished lyrical “tú” (you) whom the poetic “yo” often addresses. His poetry merges Neoplatonism, homoeroticism, and romanticism. His ideal addressee, his own personalized Kyrnos, homoeroticizes the Romantic tradition that takes as its foundation the legacy of the Classics.

His rereading of writers like Dulce María Loynaz and Santa Teresa is, at the same time, a tribute and a dialogue, a kind of struggle or confrontation (agón) that speaks both to the lover and to the hypertext. Hernández uses the imaginary, style, lexicon, syntax, and the poetic cosmology of various authors to establish a conversation that revives the original text and (re)personalizes the theme. A possible queer reading of certain texts by Loynaz ceases to be veiled in Hernández. It is entirely explicit. His parody is both, a challenge and a tribute.

Just as Garcilaso de la Vega assimilated the Petrarchic and Classical traditions in his work, Hernández’s poetry unites the Theognis collection and the work of Loynaz. His revision of Poemas sin nombre (Poems without Name) by Loynaz, merges the imagery and Eros of a comprehensive zone of lyrical Greek poetry with her rhetorical ecosystem and her syntactic and tropological structure. At times, Hernández’s poem only departs from that of Loynaz in order to distance itself via other channels. At others, he glosses and dialogues, creating a kind of response from another angle, establishing a more tangible confrontation with the referent.

For Hernández it is also essential to think of language through desire, to breathe the beloved through the grammatical. The author often plays with the associations between form and idea. He glides through the different levels of language, eroticizing and reviving them from reasoning and desire. At a time when references to Loynaz are no longer common in Cuban poetry, Hernández dares to read the work of this author from a respectful perspective, but mostly from the reverse.

Poems by Dashel Hernández Guirado:

Un tridente de juguete
para un niño dios
o la triste inicial del
para un niño raro


¿Quién, sino el agua, podrá aferrarse al agua?


¡Solo de labios para afuera podría yo exclamar que tú me bastas…! No, Señor, tú solo no bastas, ni el amor que enciendes alcanza para nada si no lo entrego todo —escúchame, todo él de golpe— a otra criatura.

A toy trident
for a child god
or the sad initial of the
for a weird boy.


Who, if not water, could cling itself to water?


Only by paying lip service could I exclaim that you are enough! No, my Lord, you alone are not enough, and not even the love you spark amounts to anything if I don’t give it all—listen to me, all of it at once—to another creature.

Translation: Students from the Advanced Translation Theory and Practice class, taught by Dr. Yoandy Cabrera at Rockford University, Spring 2020.

Correction: Dr. Eliana Rivero, Dr. Marilén Loyola, and om ulloa.

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