Ana Guerra: drawing a town in verses

Ana María Guerra’s notebooks have a hard cover, bright colors on the cover, fabric thread markers. A white label, carefully placed, announces in blue ink the content of each one: my lived experiences, stories and fables, songs, rhymes. They hide capriciously in every corner of her house in Villaverde and she, who loses one from time to time, checks here and there so they don’t escape.

In the north of Fuerteventura lives a popular poet who never knew she was and who today, smiling, calm, shows her first book in her hands: Verses, songs and poems that I kept in a drawer, an anthology that brings together, on the one hand, an important selection of airs of lime, romances, recitations, fables and rhymes of popular culture that its memory preserves intact; from another, more than a hundred poems by the author herself.

This is the first book published within the Alas de la Memoria collection, an editorial initiative that is part of the project of the same title, developed by the production company Dunes Films and has had the support of the Cabildo de Fuerteventura and the municipalities of La Oliva and Puerto del Rosario and the collaboration of the Raíz del Pueblo and Tetir Folklore Associations. The proposal, which emerged in 2020, aims to record the oral memory of Fuerteventura, promote intergenerational dialogue and generate a public and online repository of testimonies.

“The objective is to continue looking for participants, both old and young, who want to interview their neighbors, friends, family members, or who want to add recordings already made and contribute their grain of sand to this non-profit initiative that seeks to be the memory of the people”, says the project coordinator, María Sanz Esteve. The result, to date: more than 172 hours of testimonies that will be made available to the public for researchers and people interested in the history of the island.

To achieve this, the Alas de la Memoria team provided training in interview techniques, both from the point of view of content and in capturing audiovisual resources with non-professional teams to facilitate the work of young people.

That was how Ciro Fernández, twenty-six years old and a native of Villaverde, knocked on Ana’s door. The young man, who participated in the formation of the project, decided to interview her to delve into traditional songs and different aspects of the history of the village. From the interview, edited and published on the Alas de la Memoria platform, different topics of historical or ethnographic interest, such as middle lands, cake making, Bushels, stockings, bushels and cuartillos, years of drought, Villaverde School either music and songs.

From the conversation, in addition, the notebooks emerged: songs, rhymes, prayers and popular verses compiled year after year. Also the texts that, hidden in a drawer, were waiting for someone to visit them.

memory metric

“Oh, if I were a poet/ I would march through the world/ recounting my feelings/ all made poetry./ Oh, if I were a poet/ how much I would give for it/ without being the life I have/ the rest, I would give./ I would give my hacienda/ everything that would be in it/ in exchange for being a poet/ I would have nothing left./ Oh, if I were a poet/ how many poems would I make/ to the moon, to the stars/ to the sun, to the rough sea./ A the fields, to the flowers/ to the blue sky, to life/ to my town and its people/ others, also mine./ But since I am not/ the remedy that would remain/ to live with that illusion/ that I will never see fulfilled ”.

With this wish written in romance, Ana Guerra opens her nearly two hundred pages of poems, which, with metrics, rhyme and careful verse, cast an eye on her immediate and daily reality. A farewell to the peseta before the arrival of the euro, an ode to television, the recipe for the mojo, the stew from Majorero and also the millet broth, are some of the themes that populate her texts that are most deeply rooted in her street. She assures that no one taught her the meter or the rhyme, only the ear, the square, the church, the old casino, the songs of her grandmother, the door-to-door serenades.

Social roots and the story of everyday life, keys in the author’s poems

“If I heard twenty songs one night, you heard twenty songs the next day. I learned them from one”, she recounts. Her memory, a treasure in which she still preserves innumerable traditional recitations, was her school: “My grandmother knew many songs. She did not know how to read or write: she recited them by heart. I learned everything from her, also by heart from her. That’s how I learned rhyme”, she explains about her own poetry. “No one taught me to write rhyme or verse. I only woke up in the middle of the night, at dawn, with some idea and it was born like this: already a poem”.

From her time at school, Ana María remembers her teachers, the segregation of boys and girls, learning to read and write, some accounts. She remembers the games, she remembers her path and, also, that she left her soon to help out at home: “That’s how it was then”. The Villaverde school did not teach him metrics or literature. And yet, the memory of her songs helped her internalize different formulas of the lyrical genre that she never abandoned: “They are born that way just by thinking about them, that’s why I write about anything,” she points out and downplays them.

And yet, in that daily life, in daily writing, lies the treasure of someone who was a verse chronicler of the life of a people. Thus, the poem from him to The increase in the price of itemsa chronicle of inflation even in the peseta years, travels through time to remind us that the economy is cyclical, and the poems about farming, changes in lifestyle and even abandonment act as chroniclers of their time. heritage over the decades.

Dreams are capricious: Ana María Guerra had a dream in the dark, at dawn: to be a poet of her town. Perhaps her dream was so great that, stealthily, every night, the popular poet she wanted to be came to her notebooks. And she never left.

Ana Guerra: drawing a town in verses