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Can A Poet Be More Accurate Than A Journalist? – II.- Cuba June 27, 2008

Posted by Ana Bird in art, people, politics, writing.
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by Andrei Codrescu*

I went to Cuba in 1997, just before Pope John Paul IIs visit to the island. This time, I only had an NPR producer with me, Art Silverman, who did all his own recording, and a photographer, David Graham, who’d never been out of the U.S., but was well known for his photographs of middle-class Americans and the contemporary North American landscape. So we had one experienced producer, who’d been almost everywhere, including China, a poet with occasionally crazy ideas, and a photographer who found the tropical colors of Cuba dizzying. In fact, he never got over the fact that Cuba, seen through a photo lens, looks so sexy and fotogenic, that it’s almost impossible to photograph anything else. Having grown up in Romania, I was more alert about the hidden horrors that lay under all that tropical shimmer, and I was planning on not letting myself be seduced by it. Consequently, the sober prose in the book contrasts starkly with David’s delirious photographs. There is an interesting parallel here: David’s work has often been compared with that of Walker Evans (a “Walker Evans in color” as someone dubbed him). In 1933 Walker Evans went to Cuba with a left-wing journalist, Carleton eals, and together they produced a book called “The Crime of Cuba.”

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