21st April 2018. A two-way queue at the entrance of Teatro Víctor Fernández Gopar, El Salinero, to watch the premiere of the documentary film “El tiempo de la sal”, about the life of the man the theatre is named after: a shepherd, salinero, improviser and poet, born in Las Breñas in the 19th Century; on an island taken over by caciques and the self-censorship of survivors.
In 2015, poet from Granada, Carmen Tortosa, got to know the “live and vibrant” words of Fernández Gopar. It was during a poetry reading organised in Salinas de Janubio. From then on, the popular poet from Lanzarote became a golden fish. Coincidence and concerns shared with David Lynch (“Atrapa el pez dorado”) brought him to him.
Grandchildren, great grandchildren, people who had never met El Salinero but who know his four-line stanzas. Some of them feature in the documentary, others are in the audience. The verses El Salinero wrote, have been kept through oral memory, parties, quotes and stories. They were later on rescued by the Corujo folk family, and put together in a book by researcher Agustín de la Hoz, explained historian Mario Ferrer, co-editor alongside photographer Rubén Acosta, of the new reedition of Víctor Fernández Gopar’s four-line stanzas, a book that has, yet again, an Ildefonso Aguilar cover with new texts by philologists and folklorists.
The Canary Islands is one of the autonomous communities with the lowest reading rate in Spain. And “a society that doesn’t read is a manipulable society”, warned Mario Ferrer. His comment was followed by a spontaneous applause from the audience.
The documentary film, presented in Yaiza on 26th April, will travel to the 6th International Vitoria-Gasteiz Poetry Festival, and it will include a debate with master salinero Modesto Perdomo and his counterpart in Salinas de Añana (Álava). The book of Víctor Fernández Gopar Coplas, ‘El Salinero’, is already available in book stores.
Relatives of El Salinero took part in the festival: musicians, writers and salinero. On Saturday night, they went up on stage next to the documentary team, at the request of the director, to applaud for a shared dream.
It’s likely that Carmen Tortosa keeps on filming documentary films that connect Lanzarote and Granada because they share a strong bond. Another bond, of the literary kind, was the friendship between writer from Lanzarote Agustín Espinosa with Federico García Lorca, when they were both studying Philosophy and Arts.
“El tiempo de la sal” goes on a journey around the landscape of the island, its light, its salt, that framed life and the land in Lanzarote. For the music brought back inspired by the work of Fernández Gopar. For the men and women who, every time they sing or speak, are maintaining a part of the legacy, the dream the Salinero had.