From Fukushima to the Bay of Pigs

“2017, Cuba, jardines aggressor, pipin, hawksbill turtle” (via Wikimedia Commons, CC BY 2.0 by q phia

After Fukushima

Several years after the earthquake, tsunami and nuclear disaster that struck the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant in 2011, Dionì P and I co-directed the following poetry video. The poetry comments on nationalistic narratives that serve the forces of war and manipulate our fears and desires. It also points to incongruences within capitalist society, which praises the efficient use of resources and self-interested cooperation but results in the glorification of wastefulness, corruption, negligence and narcissism.

To Our Daily Fukushima / À Fukushima Nossa de Cada Dia, co-directed by Fernando Moreno and Dionì P, poetry written and performed by Fernando Moreno, 2015

In connection with the Bay of Pigs and other beaches

We are faced with the magnitude of history and the immensity of the task before us, the clash of two antagonistic but interdependent universes and a veiled threat of… peace. This is no time to overlook the gaps in the intricate web of mutually assured destruction.

If we think about it, humanity has been parading (albeit groggily) towards times of glory, and can now glimpse the early stages of mastering and reining in the imaginary of total annihilation of our and other species on the planet.

We have seen it before… Are we going to see it again?

Back in February 2020, just before my wedding, I had the immense honour and joy of spending time in the Bay of Pigs in Cuba, where we were hosted, bride, groom and guests, at some friends’ house in a village with the Caribbean sun blessing the island breeze. It was a new and indestructible world, which felt like flying in a dream. Through vast mysterious beaches, unique music and celebrations, we got to know the land that has resisted being swallowed up by the continental order. For better or for worse.

A faraway memory of the Cold War… Coats of arms and insignia, treasured war weapons and combat vehicles were there, protected from the public but exposed in the open air, accumulating dust. Meanwhile, in the eyes of the people we could still see the traces of poverty and hunger experienced in the years following the fall of the Berlin wall. Hunger that has crept back in lately. Driving through the interior of the country, we also saw a lot of apparently good land for cultivation. We talked to many, many people, but only to a few about politics. The main subjects were the versatile Cuban cuisine, the particularities of everyday life and business on the island, and of course the mixed and surprising cultural and artistic life. We experienced first-hand the union of ideologies, a vision of the noblest doctrine according to which love and friendship flood all corners of mother Gaia and beyond.

Until, in an unforgettable succession of events, such realities went up in smoke. In three years, threats and destruction spread dangerously across the planet: a pandemic, new and old large-scale wars, nuclear conflict at a new risk level, peaceful social movements annihilated by State forces without recrimination or justice, worrying developments in global ecosystems, attempted coups in several countries… and in addition to inflation, high interest rates, famine and hunger ravaging populations once more.

It seems overwhelming, but many of these problems are currently plaguing people worldwide: in nostalgic Cuba, in the USA, in Iran, in Myanmar, China, India, Russia, Ukraine, Brazil, Bolivia, Peru… And to make matters worse, they coincide with an unpredictable surge in various forms of extremism and radicalization around the globe.

Yes, we are living in critical times. But one has to ask: have the times ever stopped being critical? Critical, urgent, decisive…? If we take a good look, societies crawl like turtles, apparently helpless, but they can be agile swimmers. And, like turtles, they are capable of hiding from risks in their shells… in their great endemic solitude.

At the Bay of Pigs

[Dedicated to Manoel de Barros,
an award-winning Brazilian poet (1916-2014)]

Crossing the moon
In her groundwater bed
Balancing the scales
On a sleepless night
The turtle ambles through the plaza
And the peaches burst open like throbbing genitals

The fine yellow curved light
Slides across the horizon…
             Waning – New

The scales balance themselves
The turtle escapes the sharp knife
The moon suggests to the storm: fall…
The night closes in like a dark peach
The first rooster crows
The last dog barks

The ink in the pen runs ou…

Special thanks to Maya Khankhoje and Jody Freeman
for their valuable contribution to the translation.

A salute to the tam tams

The lyrics for this song were written by Rommel Ribeiro and me while we were watching Montreal’s tam tam players at one of the gatherings that take place every Sunday, weather permitting, in the heart of the city’s main park. A few years later when I was the producer of Rommel’s band, we received a grant to play several concerts outside Place des Arts in the festival celebrating Montreal’s 375th anniversary. The following recording was made during the Festival MTL 375, so it became a salute to the tam tams and the fascinating city that hosts the festival. The versatile band included very talented musicians from Brazil and several Canadian provinces.

“Je vous salue tam tams,” Rommel Ribeiro & Band, Place des Arts, Montréal, 2016, music by Rommel Ribeiro and Fernando Moreno

Published poetry

  • Seven poems by FER are part of the collection of poetry entitled Coletânea da Academia Cruzeirense de Letras. Art Letras (ed.), Brasilia, 2019.
  • The Storm’s Eye Blog: Haïku, Senryu and other poetic forms from FER, Montréal, 2018 – 2020.
  • A Saga Arco-Iris Preto-Cinza da Cidade. Self-published poetry with co-author Gabriel Fernandes, São Paulo, 2014.
  • Aguagem – Poemas à Deriva. Self-published poetry in Portuguese, English and French, Brasilia, 2013.

Other films

  • Islande – video poetry (videographer: Daniela Trina), 2017
  • Em Busca de Maria (videographer: Sergio Boado), 2013
  • 8 M para a Lua Cheia (co-director: Sergio Boado), 2012

Brazilian-Montréal poet and songwriter Fernando Moreno (aka FER) explores the essential-ephemeral in this time in history, armed only with pencil and paper. His musical and spoken-word collaborations, short poetic films and cultural events are featured on Storm’s Eye – arts creation.