La movida madrileña is regarded as a revolutionary era for Spanish rock ‘n’ roll and punk — rightfully so, as the newfound freedom after Franco’s death in 1975 sparked the wild hedonism of legendary bands like Kaka de Luxe, Alaska y Los Pegamoides, Parálisis Permanente, and a litany of others. But while music is a deserving centerpiece, there’s always more to any cultural upswing – like the filmmakers, writers, and artists who help shape and support the flourishing of a movement. In la movida, poet Eduardo Haro Ibars was one of them.
In fact, the world may have never known Alaska — not exactly how we know her now, at least — if not for el poeta de la movida, Ibars himself. Gay Rock, his 1974 ode to glam, captured the scene by highlighting its greats as much as its lesser known players – a work that turned her on to the genre. Inspired by Haro Ibars, she bought David Bowie’s Space Oddity. That work also reportedly inspired her to tell her mother, “I want to be a boy so I can be queer.”
A few years later, Haro Ibars would gush about Alaska y Los Pegamoides in his essay, Punks y punkettes, salid de vuestras alcantarillas, published in the anti-Franco paper Triunfo.
Though born in Madrid, Haro Ibars spent his adolescence in Tangier; both of his parents were journalists (as was his uncle), and his father worked there in the 60s. It was around that malleable age that he met William S. Burroughs, Jane Bowles, Paul Bowles, and Francis Bacon, each of them his senior by 30-plus years. The surrealism and Dadaism that many of the Beat Generation expats living there culled from is a conspicuous influence in Haro Ibars’ work and personal ethos: He was a self-proclaimed “homosexual, drogadicto y delincuente.”
Eduardo Haro Ibars worked to foreground the lives of marginalized people.
By 1968, he was back in Spain, and was arrested in Zamora for smoking marijuana. While in jail, he met the poet Leopoldo María Panero; the pair had a somewhat contentious relationship, and though they’re peers in both era and subjects, Haro Ibars has been cited as wanting to intentionally distance himself from any possible comparisons.
In Haro Ibars’ numerous volumes of poetry are tales of lived heroin abuse — in the 1978 collection ¿De qué van las drogas? especially. There’s no shortage of pain, madness, death, and disillusionment in any of his collections, really. Those motifs were filtered into his writing for magazines and newspapers, but he also worked to foreground the lives of marginalized people and advocated for social and political change. He wrote about conditions in jails and prisons. He pointed out where progressive organizations failed, too.
At the height of la movida, Haro Ibars collaborated with the theatrical pop troupe Orquesta Mondragón to write the lyrics for their 1979 debut, Muñeca hinchable. Although he was known for being difficult — the alcohol and drug abuse likely didn’t help — he was a beloved member of the movement, one of its many malditos.
When Haro Ibars died of AIDS in 1988, the prominent movida group Gabinete Caligari put one of his poems to song. Now, he’s regarded in Spain as a countercultural pioneer, one of the first for the country in gay literature, a pioneering post-modern poet. In 2005, the author J. Benitez Fernández published a biography, Eduardo Haro Ibars: los pasos del caído, as a complement of sorts to a preceding work about Leopoldo María Panero, though he probably would have hated that.
Still, that’s not enough. Had Haro Ibars lived longer, or if the world were any wiser, he’d be praised on par with Burroughs, remembered as a visionary, worthy of a pedestal just as tall.