The Ofi Press Magazine

International Poetry and Literature from Mexico City

Fernando de la Cruz: 1 Poem Published

Poem and translation by Fernando de la Cruz (Mexico)

Published in The Ofi Press issue 44.


On Mexico´s Announced Secretary of Culture

During his third yearly state-of-the-nation report, Mexico´s president Enrique Peña Nieto announced the creation of a Secretariat of Culture. It would be good news if it didn´t imply the transformation of the National Council for Culture and Arts (CONACULTA). A pattern in this national policy can be observed, since the Institutes of Culture of a number of states have already been transformed into secretariats, the most immediate example being Instituto de Cultura de Yucatán becoming Secretaría de la Cultura y las Artes.

With the CONACULTA´s council dissolved, a new federal secretariat—along with Mexico´s artists and intellectuals—would respond solely to the political needs of the president and his party. Not surprisingly, few intellectuals chose to express any form of discomfort.

Three years ago I took a short trip to Mexico City, from Mérida, and made an appointment with The Ofi Press´ editor, Jack Little, outside Palacio de Bellas Artes. It was Dec. 1, the day president Peña Nieto took office. We saw the ambulances, the shattered windows, and the anti-riot squads. We didn´t stay in the area to witness anything else.

I decided to write this poem in the form of a conceptist sonnet, resembling the direct style of baroque satirists such as Francisco de Quevedo and Juan del Valle y Caviedes. Following the steps of such maestros, I view my country as a gold mine for satire.




On Mexico´s Announced Secretary of Culture

When Culture and the Arts are centralized,

Who says this means to lose autonomy?

And by becoming a Secretariat,

Why are we acting against sanity?


It isn´t a dictator-like behavior.

To art itself we would be doing a favor.

The sole beneficiary is the artist

As he himself becomes the official censor.


What artist wouldn´t want to be appointed

Secretary of Arts with such a budget

And such an institutionalization?


It could be any stiff and dusty dancer,

Some boring actor booed by every audience,

Some poet turned into poetic courtier.




¿CONACULTA será Secretaría?

Cuando se centraliza a la Cultura,

¿quién dice que se pierde autonomía?

Al convertirnos en Secretaría,

¿por qué atentamos contra la cordura?


No es comportarse como dictadura;

es un favor al arte, yo diría.

El artista se beneficiaría

al ejercer él mismo la censura.


Con semejante institución de Estado

y el presupuesto que será asignado,

¿qué artista no querrá ser Secretario?


…Algún danzante tieso y empolvado,

algún actor por todos abucheado,

algún oscuro poetifuncionario.