Luis Rogelio Nogueras, Rendezvous With the Memory

Luis Rogelio Nogueras, Rendezvous With the Memory
Fecha de publicación: 
16 November 2023
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Journalism gave me the chance to talk with Luis Rogelio Nogueras About his literary work, love for cinema and other issues that with the passing of many years now I recall. Unforgettable afternoon in which with his characteristic kindness answered my questions.

Born in Havana, on November 17, 1944, from a family lovers of literature; his uncle was the remarkable writer Alfonso Hernández Catá. Since he was a child Luis Rogelio felt inclined to letters, then there were his passion.

My interviewee studied commerce and later earned a Diploma in Spanish and Spanish -American literature, at the University of Havana.
As a journalist he was the editor of the International Cuba magazine and head of drafting of Caiman Barbudo. During another stage he worked as researcher, editor and writer of the Cuban Book Institute. In the Cuban Cinema Magazine and other publications he exercised film and literary critic.

Talk without haste

- Luis Rogelio, how was your interest in the police novel born which you have  cultivated with so much success?

-Since I was a boy I have been a great reader of police novels, and that hobby I’ve kept it. On my bedside table I always have one of those works. For example, The Maltese Falcon, by Dashiell Hammett, read it at least 20 or 30 times. This author and, I repeat an opinion of specialized criticism, opened new perspectives not only to the police novel, but to literature in general.

- At 15 or 16 I tried a novel. It must be around somewhere at least 15 projects I never finished; they were left at the scheme or in a first chapter. Then, I was motivated by the fact that ten years ago, the people from the Political Directorate of the Ministry of Interior had the happy initiative to create a contest that stimulates the creation of police works. Fruit of this work are El Cuarto circulo, written with
Guillermo Rodríguez Rivera, who  won the MININT 1976 award, and the titled Y si muero mañana, Cirilo Villaverde Award of the UNEAC 1977 Contest.

 -Luis Rogelio, in this book, above all, there’s a lot of action. Sometimes it's like If we were watching a movie. What influences do you have from cinema?

-A lot. Where I first started working it was at ICAIC. I started as a cartoon cameraman and finally, in 1964, I made a short animated film in colors: Sueño en el parque, a short film that now seen from the
distance can be naive, but in which some elements still keep some freshness. It’s a parable; atomic war and a couple in love these first years were decisive; they helped me in me training and shaping an artistic vision of the world closely linked to cinematography.

Despite his apparent detachment from cinema, he was still interested in ICAIC lines of work. In 1969 he collaborated with Octavio Cortázar in Acerca de un santo que algunos llaman San Lázaro y otros Babalú, an attractive film in itself, because of its aim and its sociological projection.

The poet and writer met Cortázar again for the script of El Brigadista and GuardaFronteras films, which beat box office records. Besides he was co-writer of the script of the film Leyenda.

-In our talk we approached the issue sof women in the police novel, which he rather calls “adventure police literature”.

-In both films El cuarto circulo, and Y si muero Manana the woman is present. In the first one has an important role; in the second appears the Yolanda character as a vital symbol of revolutionary identity.

Both novels were successes in bookstores. Remembered that Progress Publishing House from Moscow made a first run of 250 thousand copies and another second edition for the same amount. It was published by various publishers in Slovakia, Hungary, the United States, and Spain.

Journalistic curiosity is neverending. Luis Rogelio has a lot to say. I remember that in 1967, with the poem book Cabeza de zanahoria, he won the prize David. This title was very welcomed by the critics: it’s a journey to the world of the poet's childhood and adolescence, seedbed of felt experiences in full heart.

The title Cabeza de zanahoria has to do with a famous novel of the French Jules Renard, his mother read him when he was a boy.

The Cuban did not publish poetry until 1977 in which he announced Las 15 mil vidas del caminante. His other poem book, El ultimo caso del inspector, as he explained to me, is a literary joke.

On whether he had written any police poem, he answered:
-Welith such l yes, in Puro fuego my last poem book there’s one with such approach.

For Imitacion de la vida, 1981, a jury integrated by the Argentine Juan Gelman, José Emilio Pacheco, from Mexico, the Cuban Fayad Jamis and the Peruvian Antonio Cisneros awarded the Poetry Prize in the Casa de las Americas Contest ; the jury highlighted that Luis Rogelio's work constituted “a contribution to the Spanish lyrics”.

When referring   to the award, the author said:

-The prestige of the award grows more and more. I really feel honored to have won it. My poetry book Imitacion de la vida completes a cycle I started with Cabeza de zanahoria.

Luis Rogelio enjoys talking about poetry and expresses that he had written about many themes “Because the poet always tries to embrace a greater universe". He believes, with great force in love and states: “I am not just in love with life, but in that way it’s embodied: the woman. ”


In the fullness of life, the outstanding intellectual Luis Rogelio Nogueras, Wichi El Rojo, died on July 6, 1985, in Havana. He was 40 years old. He left many unpublished poems and the novel Las manos vacias.


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