While some of us searched for things to occupy ourselves with during the Covid-19 quarantine, local poet Fer de la Cruz used the time to write and publish an entire book of poems. The book, Covidario veinte veinte: 20 + 20 poemas desde la cuarentena, was released on May 13, 2020 by Ablucionistas Editorial and is available online free of charge.
So, as things get back to “normal,” (we hope) consider reading this fascinating book, which is beautifully edited, if your Spanish is up to it. In these frightening days, Fer says, “I felt it was a time for optimism and I made a point to inject every poem with it, in addition to some level of humor and critical thinking.”
From April 10 to May 10, Fer scribbled away. Every day, he would join the online Zoom group, Poetas sin fronteras, founded by the Hidalgo poet Jorge Contreras, and read his poems straight off his screen. After the news came out that doctors and nurses were being attacked in México and Yucatán, Fer was inspired to write some of the first poems, and ideas for others kept coming. The arrangement of the book simply followed the days of the calendar from the time the quarantine officially started in Yucatán.
He decided to call the book Covidario, which is the name, in México, of the area designated for the care of Covid-19 patients. But it also brings to mind the word “diary” as if this were a chronicle written in poetry about both the tragedy of the epidemic and the experience of the quarantine.
“Some of the poems reflect the common notion in México that things can always get worse,” says the poet. “They invite the reader to expect the worse with a smile in a stoic way.” He also states on GoodReads that “Due to the speed of the book’s launch, it could be the first complete book of poetry on Covid-19 by a single author to be published in Mexico, or in Latin America, or in the Hispanic world…”
Or, possibly, in any language anywhere. There are sure to be more. But let the record show that the first was from our very own Fer de la Cruz of Mérida, Yucatán. Also, take to heart his invitation to respond to the crisis with kindness. As can be read on the credit page: “This is a free book, but nothing is free. Should you find it enriching, pay it forward through an act of kindness. And share it.”
This Decameron in Solidarity
By Fer de la Cruz
English translation by Jonathan Harrington
“…poetry is just another way to tell a story.”
The days would be identical,
dominoes on a rickety table,
one after another
in this game of everyday tedium
if not for stories,
conversations between neighbors
from window to window,
or in line at the bank,
keeping a sane or insane distance,
the journalistic notes,
the chat with a friend on another part of the planet,
on this, our not so lonely planet.
How many stories arise in a quarantine?
Let’s tell them.
Better yet, let’s poeticize them.
Covidario viente viente: 20 + 20 poemas desde la cuarentena (Ablucionistas), by Fer de la Cruz, may be read on-line or downloaded for free here.
Editorial by Jonathan Harrington
Novelist & Poet
Photography by Laura Sanchez for its use in Yucatán Today
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