2010 marks the centenary of the birth in Orihuela of Miguel Hernández (October 30, 1910-March 28, 1942), one of Spain’s most prominent and important poets and playwrights of the 20th century. To honour the occasion the mayor of Torrevieja, Pedro Hernandez Mateo has announced the creation of the Comisión Municipal Centenario Miguel Hernández, to coordinate the events planned in the city in commemoration of this anniversary.

In one of the rare acts of political togetherness, the Commission will be chaired by the Mayor of Torrevieja, along with the Councillor of Culture, Eduardo Dolon plus spokesmen for the four political groups represented in the Town Hall of Torrevieja: Joaquín Albaladejo Martínez (PP), Manuel Vera Quiles (PSOE) Jose Manuel Martinez Andreu (UI) and José Manuel Dolon Garcia (The Greens).

Miguel Hernández published his first book of poetry at 23, despite being born into a poor family and receiving little formal education. He gained considerable fame before his death and was, for the most part, self-taught. During the Spanish Civil War he campaigned in favour of the Republic but unlike some more fortunate others, after the Republican surrender he could not escape Spain. The poet was arrested multiple times and eventually sentenced to death, which was later altered to a prison term of 30 years.

He spent time in various prisons, living in very harsh conditions; he finally died from tuberculosis in 1942. On his death bed he wrote on the wall of the hospital: ‘Goodbye, brothers, comrades, friends: let me take my leave of the sun and the fields.’ The poet’s works include: Perito en lunas (1934), El rayo que no cesa (1936), Vientos del pueblo me llevan (1937), El hombre acecha (1938-1939) and Cancionero y Romancero de Ausencias (incomplete, 1938-1942).

Torrevieja has close educational ties with the Miguel Hernández University in Oriheula and many events to honour him have been planned in Oriheula, Torrevieja and other local towns during the year. Also part of the Committee are José Luís Vicente Ferris (biographer de Miguel Hernández), Professor of IES in Torrevieja  Manuel Albaladejo, the official chronicler of the city, Francisco Sala Aniorte, the coordinator of Culture for Torrevieja’s Town Hall, Manuel Esteban Moreno and the City Librarian, Carmen Muñoz Vidal.

Although Miguel Hernández may not be too well know to English speakers, 2010 promises to be a year when local residents and visitors shall be afforded the opportunity to find out more about the poet, the history of 20th Century Spain, plus Franco and the atrocities of the Spanish Civil War.