Graham Mort
Cuba Libre at the Café España

My first visit to Catalonia was after Franco's death but before much had changed on the surface of things. Returning years later, the Catalan language had reappeared in public and tourism was challenging the traditional activities of fishing and viticulture.

There were personal shifts too - ageing, survival, evasions, the unpredictable undercurrent of relationships.

'Cuba Libre at the Café España' attempts to express some sense of a place rich in history that has acted as a kind of echo-sounder, reflecting a resistance to and a longing for change.

You can journey through the poems as I suggest, subvert my unreliable chronology and download the sequence in any order you choose, or click on the images to the left to arrive at a poem, but it's impossible to have it all at once.

What unifies the poems - like any set of personal, historical or political events - is not their order on the page, real time, or the narrator's insistence, but your imagination.


by the poem titles or by the thumbnail photos

  1. Catalonia
  2. Port de la Selva
  3. Street-wise
  4. Snorkelling
  5. Storm
  6. Longitude
  7. Fire-Festival
  8. De-Frosting
  9. The Crab Beach
  10. Anchovies
  11. Wild Grapes
  12. Cuba Libre at the Café España
  13. La Vida Breve
  14. The Sea-Road

Graham Mort

Graham Mort's passionate yet elegiac poetry explores personal and public experience, combining a sensitivity to landscape with a concern for violence and oppression.

His collections include Sky Burial and, most recently, Circular Breathing, which was a Poetry Book Society Recommendation. Poems from this commission were featured in Graham's BBC Radio 4 play Cuba Libre at the Cafe Espana, produced by Sue Roberts in April 2002, which devised a back-story and dramatised the context. A version of the sequence also appeared in his poetry collection, A Night on the Lash (Seren), 2004.

[Updated 2006]