Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Joe Hayes & Santa Fe's Sister City--Holguín, Cuba

Saturday, September 20, 2-3pm, Garcia Street Books will host a celebration for Joe Hayes' new book Dance, Nana, Dance: Cuban Folk Tales in Spanish and English.

Joe Hayes wrote the following in response to a question about Holguín:

In 2001 the Santa Fe City Council proclaimed a sister city relationship with the city of Holguín, Cuba via the U.S./Cuba Sister Cities Association. It was a time when many U.S. cities were forging such links with cities in Cuba and people-to-people travel to Cuba was quite popular. Excitement for the newly proclaimed relationship was high and several Santa Feans traveled to Holguín, including a group of high school students from Santa Fe Prep. The public library in Holguín proudly features a Santa Fe section containing some 500 books donated by the sister city group.

In September, 2001, on my way to participate in a storytelling festival in Santiago de Cuba, I visited Holguín and discovered that our sister city is a charming municipality with a very vibrant arts community. The city boasts a lyric opera company, a symphonic band, a modern dance troupe and a folklorico dance group, along with many visual and performance artists. There was not a storytelling movement in the city at the time, however. And so in the fall of 2002, along with Elvia Pérez, president of the storytelling branch of the Cuban national union of writers and artists, I went to Holguín to teach a storytelling workshop and helped her establish a local storytelling group.

The storytellers of Holguín are still active, and I am in frequent contact with the members of the group, but the sister city relationship has languished somewhat due to the change in U.S. Government policy toward travel to Cuba. Renewed interest in our sister city is beginning to surface, however, largely due to the efforts of Bernard Rubenstein (santafeholguinsistercities@yahoo.com), and the interest of Santa Fe Mayor David Coss in strengthening our sister city bonds.

In the course of my many visits to Cuba I’ve investigated the folklore of the island and learned a number of Cuban tales. I’ve begun to mix some of these stories in with my usual Southwestern repertoire. The book Dance, Nana, Dance/Baila, Nana, Baila is a bilingual collection of Cuban stories. I’m hoping that its presentation at Garcia Street Books on September 20 will further stimulate interest in our sister city of Holguín. The event will include Cuban storytelling, book signing and a presentation about Holguín and the sister city program.