Can You?

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Nicholas Guillén (Cuba)

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Guillén wrote Ballad of Two Grandfathers that appears immediately prior to Can You? Like Neruda, the author’s poetry is rooted in the social, cultural, and political life of his people. He explores folklore and popular culture, enjoying a recounting and reframing of Cuba’s national character as he see it. He is a significant protester for right as he sees it.

Can you? poses a question that is repeatedly heard now. Where is the morality of accumulating vast wealth and private property? By association, what even is the price of pollution? It is akin to killing us all – almost a Soylent Green effect where fewer have more than the total of the remaining.

Comparisons have been made between Guillén and Aime Cesaire whom we will examine later. Both writers are vital to understanding the artistic and intellectual ties between black writers from the United States, Africa, and the Caribbean.

Cuba is a “melting pot” of sorts, as is the United States. A friend whom I have known for decades is genetically Chinese. But she is a bi-cultural person, having grown up in Cuba with its distinctive mores and having her parents rooted in the traditions of her familial heritage. The twist is that generations ago, her people were brought to Cuba as slaves.

Guillén speaks for her, too.