Born in 1933 in the village of Barrancas in Oriente, Cuba, Rafael Alcides developed as a poet in the city of Havana, where he arrived in 1953. It was also that city where he'd been conceived by his thirteen-year-old mother, seduced by a traveling salesman who took her on a sightseeing trip to the capital. At the age of fourteen, a year after his mother's death by self-immolation, Alcides himself began his trek westward toward the capital, supporting himself by working as a baker, a sugar cane cutter, a logger, a cook for work gangs, and a clerk at a general store, among other jobs. In Havana, too, he had his share of occupations – mason, house painter, insurance agent, and door-to-door salesman – while active in the revolutionary struggle against the dictatorship of Fulgencio Batista. When the revolution triumphed in 1959, he worked for the Ministry of the Exterior of the new government, eventually becoming its chief press officer. Through the ministry he hosted a television program dedicated to interviewing foreign political figures visiting the island. In 1961 he co-founded the Union of Writers and Artists of Cuba (UNEAC).
After Fidel Castro openly supported the Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia in 1968, Alcides became disillusioned with the Castro regime, beginning a process that culminated in 1993, when he withdrew from all public and literary activities. His work was censured by the government, and he entered a voluntary internal exile, often called insilio in Cuba, which lasted until 2011.
Meanwhile his poetry gained international attention, mostly in Spain, where his selected poems appeared in 2009. He was honored with two Premios de la Crítica, and a third for a novel co-written with another author. In 2011 he received the Café Bretón & Bodegas Olarra de Prosa Española prize. Rafael Alcides lived in Cuba until his death in 2018.
Himnos de montaña. La Habana. Organizaciones Revolucionarias del Capitolio Nacional, 1961.
La pata de palo. La Habana. Ediciones Unión, 1967.
Agradecido como un perro. La Habana. Editorial Letras Cubanas, 1983.
GMT: Poesía seleccionada (1963 – 2008). Sevilla. Renacimiento, 2009.
El anillo de Ciro Capote. Sevilla. Espuela de Plata, 2011.
Libreta de viaje. Logroño. Gente Adorable/Mangolele, 2011
Memorias del porvenir. Logroño. AMG Editor, 2011.
Por una mata de pascua. Pamplona. Fulgencio Pimentel, 2011.
Un cuento de hadas que termina mal. Logroño. Pepitas de Calabaza, 2014
Conversaciones con Dios. Sevilla. Calle del Aire, 2014.
Nadie. Leiden. Bokeh, 2016.
Contracastro. Eriginal Books, 2018.
Como si fuéramos eternos: Correspondencia entre el poeta cubano Rafael Alcides y el maestro cubano-americano Carlos Lazo. Publicación independiente. 2020.