Rafael Pérez Estrada

Rafael. I remember as if it were yesterday: the phone call from Ballesteros, near midnight. That's it. He's gone. We knew it was coming, but it still seemed impossible. Mari Carmen Troyano came over so the girls wouldn't be alone. Asun on the trek to Santiago. The walk over to City Hall where the majestic Salón de los Espejos opened its doors one last time for Málaga's favorite son. But Rafael was now horizontal, in a closed casket. I remember the faces, the profound sense of loss. Pablo, Juvenal, José Ignacio, Berjillos, Ballesteros, Paco, Rafael's brothers... Antonio was here in the US. Ironies. Ten years have passed, and the anniversary was celebrated with the birth of the Rafael Pérez Estrada Foundation. Esteban Pérez Estrada has seen it through.

I find trying to describe Rafael a most difficult challenge. He was quite formal in manner, but at the same time gregarious. His personality was magnetic and listening to him always a privileged lesson. Cosmology. A poetics of life. Humor and an unparalleled imagination central tools of his pedagogy. Wednesdays were sacred. Bilmore our temple. To walk in, see Rafael at the bar and be greeted with an "ah, mi príncipe". From anyonone else it would have been simply ridiculous. From Rafael, very funny. And very special. I'll be a student forever. This morning in Diario Sur, Soler expresses it best: "Bilmore was the name we had for friendship and a weekly miracle, but also, although it wasn't written in any of our irreverent statutes –words to the wind– a way of understanding literature and society, and a way of recovering that atmosphere of vanguard that once identified Malaga." Indeed. In those last months Rafael let it be known, subtly and emphatically, that Bilmore had to continue. We tried. They tried. And it did go on, has gone on, but it's not the same. It can't be. When the center is lost, the periphery doesn't hold.

Ten years. Seems like yesterday. Here is a link to the first texts of his I had published in English.

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