Anti-poetry anthology

Coming soon: the second volume of Nicanor Parra's complete works

The book brings together the last three decades of work from the Chilean writer and mathematician who defined 20th century 'antipoetry.'

Tuesday, July 26, 2011  
Complete Works II (Obras Completas II) will contain writings published between 1975 and 2006. (Photo Complete Works II (Obras Completas II) will contain writings published between 1975 and 2006. (Photo: DIBAM)

With the second volume of the complete works of Nicanor Parra due to arrive in Chile this October, it seems hard to believe that the renowned Chilean 'antipoet' never had plans to compile and publish a personal anthology.

The veteran author of Poems and Antipoems was always opposed to the idea of 'finished work'  and had no desire to publish a collection of his texts; he just continued with his writing while keeping up-to-date by collecting phrases from his grandchildren and listening in on the conversations of young people.

But that all changed in 1998 following a visit from another Chilean poet, Roberto Bolaño, who convinced Parra of the need for the anthology while laying the groundwork for the project. The rest, as they say, is history.

Over the next few years the two poets continued to meet to work on the anthology. Although Bolaño died in 2003, the project carried on and the first volume, Complete Works and Something + (Obras completas & algo +), was published in 2006. This first book of collected works thrust Parra into the spotlight, drawing attention from well-known critics and academics such as Harold Bloom, Frederico Schopf and Niall Binns, who noted: “Parra began the democratization of poetry in the Spanish language”.

While the first volume focused on Parra's earlier works, Complete Works II (Obras Completas II) brings together his writings published between 1975 and 2006. Along with some of Parra's better known pieces, including the Parra's Pages and Jokes to Confuse the Police, the second part of the anthology contains a collection of previously unpublished works. Other highlights from the soon-to-be-released book include an adaptation of Shakespeare's King Lear into the language of 'antipoetry' and Speeches Around the Table (Discursos de Sobremesa), a compilation of five of Parra's famous speeches.

Complete Works II is being published by Random House Mondadori and will appear in hardcover and paperback editions.