Ediciones Vigia, Matanzas, Cuba

cover of Celare Navis y Otros Poemas by Cuban writer Antón Arrufat, from the University of Missouri collection

cover of Celare Navis y Otros Poemas by Cuban writer Antón Arrufat, from the University of Missouri collection http://www.lib.umich.edu/onlineexhibits/exhibits/show/main/ediciones-vigia/ev2

Named for the Plaza de la Vigía (Watchtower Square), which it overlooks from an airy colonial house, Ediciones Vigía is a collective publishing house in the provincial town of Matanzas, Cuba, about a 90 minute drive east of Havana.

Founded by poet, painter and stage designer Rolando Estévez Jordán and poet Alfredo Zaldívar in 1985 as a meeting place for writers and visual artists, Ediciones Vigía later evolved into an outlet for writers who were overlooked by the large publishing houses in Cuba. The mission was twofold – to circulate unknown literary voices in Cuba and to interpret and underscore those voices visually, creating distinctive, textual art-objects and installations in the process. In addition to little-known Cuban writers, Ediciones Vigía publishes illuminated editions of the works of famous writers like Emily Dickenson, Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Jorge Luis Borges and Cuban poet Nancy Morejón. Continue reading

Afrocuba de Matanzas

Afrocuba de Matanzas is a folkloric group, whose members are directly descended from West Africans brought to Cuba as slaves. The group formed in 1957 with a mission to preserve their African cultural heritage through performances (including world tours and recording), as well as lectures and workshops. The city of Matanzas, about 2 hours from Havana, is Cuba’s main center of Afro-Cuban traditional culture and Afrocuba is widely acknowledged as among the most authentic traditional Afro-Cuban music groups.

Slaves in Cuba were allowed to gather in tribal and ethnic groups to practice their traditional religions, which involved dancing, drumming, chanting and call and response. Afrocuba performs these rituals in their pure forms as well as music and dance genres which descended from them, in combination with Spanish and Caribbean traditions. Instruments, all percussion, are handmade in the traditional ways using traditional materials.

Meet Afrocuba de Matanzas and watch them perform on a Ya’lla tour to Cuba.