Trinidadian Darién Peña Prada deserved the Calendar Prize, the most important award given by the Hermanos Saíz Association, in Poetry
With the book Contextual Beast, this young Trinidadian obtains his first award in literature.
To the rhythm of trova he grew. At home, the whole family sings and plays the guitar. Some compose and others like their great aunt Isabel Béquer, The Deepdignify the trinitarian pentagram. Song by song, Darién Peña Prada became great and today he needs verses to exist.
“Because of that environment, I am seen more surrounded by troubadours than by the writers themselves,” says who on Telegram maintained constant publications between chords and poetry, somewhat to alleviate the most complex days of the covid.
But long before, he preferred to escape from the cobbled streets and take refuge in the harmony of La Trovuntivitis or El Longina, in Santa Clara. It is the breath of air necessary to find yourself in front of the blank paper.
“Literature is the profession I chose, even if it doesn’t give me our daily bread. I balance it with activities that do. Every day I do literary exercises, I read, I polish the tools with which I sculpt the verses… I get up every day convinced that I should dedicate my time to it”.
That passion gave rise to the Callejas cultural-editorial project, together with the encouragement of several friends. In the very heart of the Museum City of the Caribbean, manufactured books are born to give away.
About 200 copies of the same title, but with a unique character on the covers and illustrations. They arrive —both under the Sueltos collection and El SolDado— in very unique presentations at the hands of those who prefer to enjoy lyrics.
Too much dedication to literature! A constant search to meet their essences and that many other eyes know how to read between each of their lines. A record honored with one of the most important awards for creative youth: the Calendar Prize in Poetry 2022, awarded by the Hermanos Saíz Association (AHS).
“I received the news with euphoria. I am an unpublished poet. This is my first award in the world of literature. I did not have many expectations of winning because it is a book of sonnets, a metrical structure that is not systematically rewarded in Cuban contests. Poetic prose and free verse abound more”.
Perhaps for Darién Peña Prada the joy was greater when reading the minutes of the jury made up of Nancy Morejón, Arístides Vega Chapú and José Luis Serrano: “The text reveals the birth of a poet whose expression pays tribute, with an impressive will to style, to the traditional metrical forms of Spanish poetry, in particular the sonnet whose invoice is, as is known, a real challenge to literary creation since medieval times”.
The jury thinks so after rereading contextual beastthe book that this Trinitarian put into competition and that will soon be seen, as always happens with the winners, at the International Book Fair in Havana, after the award ceremony
“Of the finished texts, it is the one that I considered the roundest —to put it in some way—, it was almost finished because for us authors we never finish the books, we always have to remove or add it. Every time we read it we find something in it. But with contextual beast I am quite satisfied. The Calendar must be thrown hard and with everything because it is the contest most requested by young people.
“I am not competitive. I simply participate in the contests because they make you visible and allow you to publish, beyond the possibilities of regional, specialized and national publishers”.
How not to contaminate the sincerity of your art in a context as commercial as Trinidad?
“I think that literature is the one that stumbles the least when it comes to the commercialization of art in Trinidad, a beautiful town that breathes poetry in each of its corners, tiles, stones and that facilitates creation. Here there is a lot of concentration on selling postcards to tourists, which is why we find proposals limited to that in galleries or in nightclubs with music that only aspires to make people dance, when perhaps their interpreter wants to give away a sad melody.
“To get away from that commercial monster, I visit Santa Clara, a great cultural capital. I go to book fairs and rub shoulders with young writers and troubadours, but I do believe that this reality will continue as long as the mentalities of both administrators and artists do not change. The tourist will consume what is given to him with sincerity and depth. It is true that many come looking for the postcard, but others do not. Trinidad has to learn a lot in this sense and open itself to those doors so that its creators can produce what they really want to do.
“In general, in my poetry you can find the classical forms. I really like music that says hendecasyllables, alexandrines, octosyllables… I try to get away from poetic prose and free verse, perhaps reacting to the abundance of these genres on the national and international scene”.
Darién Peña Prada is carried away by his instincts. The same is seen giving away masks with phrases of profound lyricism and with the Callejas seal or immersed in other book projects.
“Right now I am working on two collections of poems. one is titled the forge. It will be a collection of poems with works in classic, traditional forms such as the sonnet, the tenth or the Alexandrian verse. Its backbone is the relationship between Adelantado Pablo, characters in the novel the lost stepsof Alejo Carpentier with the foundation, assumed from all the edges. In addition, I work on a book of tenths”.