(12/01/2014)  Poems & Antipoems by Nicanor Parra. New York. 1967. New Directions. hardcover. 149 pages. Jacket photograph by Thomas Merton. Design by David Ford. Edited by Miller Williams. keywords: Poetry Translated Latin America Chile Literature.


   The Chilean poet Nicanor Parra is one of those significant figures who appear from time to time in all literature and through a profound originality and sense of the Pound/Confucius principle of ‘Make It New’ revitalize the poetry of their language. Just as the Imagists and William Carlos Williams re-channelled the course of American poetry, so Parra’s ‘antipoems,’ with their directness of metaphor and rejection of rhetoric and ‘poetic’ decoration, are influencing young poets throughout Latin America, ‘Anti poetry,’ Parra has said, ‘seeks to return poetry to its roots.’ The reader may judge from this collection, which is drawn from all of Parra’s published books, how well he has succeeded. Poems and 14ntipoems has been edited, with an introduction, by Miller Williams and presents Parra’s Spanish texts opposite the English versions which are by the editor, W. S. Merwin, Denise Levertov, Thomas Merton, William Carlos Williams, Allen Ginsberg, Fernando Alegria, J. Laughlin, and Lawrence Ferlinghetti, who first discovered Parra for North American readers with a book in the City Lights series in 1960. CONTENTS: Introduction; from POEMAS Y ANTIPOEMAS (1938-1953) - Nineteen-Thirty; Disorder in Heaven; Self-Portrait; Song; Ode to Some Doves; Puzzle; Madrigal; Landscape; Travel Notes; Letters to an Unknown Woman; The Pilgrim; The Tunnel; Memories of Youth; Piano Solo; The Viper; The Vices of the Modern World; The Tablets; The Trap; The Individual’s Soliloquy; from VERSOS DE SALON (1953-1962) - Changes of Name; Roller Coaster; In the Graveyard; Clever Ideas Occur to Me; Love Tale; Journey through Hell; Death and the Maiden; I Move the Meeting Be Adjourned; Mummies; Butterfly; Dreams; Dog’s Life; Poetry Ends With Me; Women; Soda Fountain; Litany of the Little Bourgeois; What the Deceased Had To Say About Himself; Funeral Address; The Imperfect Lover; The Shuffled Deck; from CANCIONES RUSAS (1963-1964) - Snow; Chronos; Beggar; Hot Cakes; Rites; Nobody; from EJERCICIOS RESPIRATORIOS (1964-1966) - Stains on the Wall; Act of Independence; Lonelyhearts; I call Myself a Reasonable Man; Thoughts; In The Cemetery; Young Poets; Ponchartrain Causeway; Test; Lord’s Prayer; I Take Back Everything I’ve Said. Poemas y Antipoemas and Versos de Salon were first published by Editorial Nascimento, Santiago de Chile, Canciones Rusas was first published by Editorial Joaquin Mortiz, Mexico City. Nicanor Parra’s first book publication in the United States was a selection of Antipoems in Lawrence Ferlinghetti’s City Lights ‘Pocket Poets’ Series, San Francisco.

Nicanor Parra Sandoval (born 5 September 1914) is a Chilean poet, mathematician, and physicist. He is considered an influential poet in Chile and throughout Latin America. Some rank him among the most important poets of Spanish language literature. Parra describes himself as an ‘anti-poet,’ due to his distaste for standard poetic pomp and function; after recitations he exclaims ‘Me retracto de todo lo dicho’ (‘I take back everything I said’). Parra, the son of a schoolteacher, was born in 1914 in San Fabián de Alico, Chile, near Chillán in southern Chile. He comes from the artistically prolific Parra family of performers, musicians, artists, and writers. His sister, Violeta Parra, was a folk singer, as was his brother Roberto Parra Sandoval. In 1933, he entered the Instituto Pedagógico of the University of Chile, and qualified as a teacher of mathematics and physics in 1938, one year after his first book, Cancionero sin Nombre, appeared. After teaching in Chilean secondary schools, in 1943 he enrolled in Brown University in the United States to study physics. In 1948, he attended Oxford University to study cosmology. He returned to Chile as a professor at the Universidad de Chile in 1946. Since 1952, Parra has been professor of theoretical physics in Santiago and has read his poetry in England, France, Russia, Mexico, Cuba, and the United States. He has published several books. Parra chooses to leave behind the conventions of poetry; his poetic language renounces the refinement of most Latin American literature and adopts a more colloquial tone. His first collection, Poemas y Antipoemas (1954) is a classic of Latin American literature, one of the most influential Spanish poetry collections of the twentieth century. It is cited as an inspiration by American Beat writers such as Allen Ginsberg. On December 1, 2011, Parra won the Spanish Ministry of Culture's Cervantes Prize, the most important literary prize in the Spanish-speaking world. On June 7, 2012, he won the Premio Iberoamericano de Poesía Pablo Neruda.



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