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Cuban poet Carilda Oliver Labra on Her 86th Birthday
“It cheers me up and makes me forget my age,” Carilda said with the exquisite humor that characterizes her.

Carilda has a tremendous willpower. At her age, she is very optimistic, full of energy and refuses to abandon poetry. Her visual-problems have deprived her momentarily of the pleasure of writing, but she affirms that once she recovers her eyesight fully, she will sit down at her computer to finish her novel and undertake other literary projects.

She thinks that her good quality of life is a direct result of a healthy lifestyle. “I used to practice sports. I was a runner when I studied at the Institute of Matanzas, and later also as a university student. I like baseball and volleyball and I certainly love athletics. I like chess, though I’m not very good at it. It’s healthy to practice sports.”

Carilda remembers with great enthusiasm when she attended the basketball competitions between Cárdenas and Matanzas as a teenager.

“We, the local girls, always carried stones with us because those competitions always ended in a street fight. It was very funny, kids stuff. Who was the winner or loser was really unimportant. But, of course, I never threw a single stone.”

This talkative woman is a National Literature Prize laureate and the author of many books, among them ‘Al Sur de mi garganta’ and ‘Canto a Fidel.’ The latter pays homage to the historical leader of the Cuban Revolution. She is now going through all the books she has published in the course of nearly seven decades. “I get rid of everything I consider useless, so I can live on in time.”

She explained that she’s always been active and in permanent contact with her people. “Poets need that. That is why I never feel helpless, since I count on the support of many people, especially my husband. Despite the age difference, thus far we’ve gotten along just fine.”

In spite of her age, Carilda feels young and is not afraid of death. “I’m happy with my life. I’m hopeful and I always look to the future. I’ve got my pets and my plants and many other things that please me. I never try to pick a quarrel, but since I studied law sometimes I just can’t walk away. “Writing poetry has helped me achieve a balance in my life. It has allowed me to give and receive much love. I don’t think of death at all. I think about life and a better tomorrow.”

You have any concerns?

“Not at all, I have a placid, calm life and I consider myself very lucky. I have the good fortune to live here in Cuba and have a homeland.”


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