Anthology of antipoet Nicanor Parra reaches bookstores

The writer, one of the most widely read in Chile, is –together with Pablo Neruda and Vicente Huidobro– part of the greatest literary trilogy in Chile. This fact is highlighted in the prologue written by Argentine author Elvio Gandolfo.

Brother of the well-known folk singer Violeta Parra, Nicanor, together with the late Pablo Neruda and Vicente Huidobro, make up the greatest literary trilogy in Chile.
Brother of the well-known folk singer Violeta Parra, Nicanor, together with the late Pablo Neruda and Vicente Huidobro, make up the greatest literary trilogy in Chile.

One day before The Day of the Book, which was celebrated on 22 April 2010 and at which the Mexican author José Emilio Pacheco was given the Cervantes Award, the latest anthology of the Chilean “antipoet”, Nicanor Parra, reached the bookstores. This is considered his least commercial work but at the same time the most symbolic contemporary literary proposition in Latin America.

In this way, Parra, one of the pioneers of “antipoetry”, is once again present with “Parranda Larga” (“Long Spree”, but also a play on words with his surname), edited by Alfaguara. The prologue is written by the Argentine writer and journalist Elvio Gandolfo, who summarizes Parra’s entire work, with special emphasis on the writer’s poems and antipoems. Gandolfo highlights the most characteristic features of the poet’s work, where he broke off with the traditional canons of the art and aimed instead at provoking and seducing the reader. These characteristics mark his work to this day.

The book also includes two appendices: a brief manifesto including poetry from the year 1948 and the other a welcome speech by the Chilean Nobel Prize winner for Literature, Pablo Neruda in 1972, when Parra was accepted as an academic member of the Universidad de Chile.

Brother of the well-known folk singer Violeta Parra, Nicanor, together with the late Pablo Neruda and Vicente Huidobro, make up the greatest literary trilogy in Chile. This is highlighted by Gandolfo in the prologue.

In a relevant paragraph of the prologue, Gandolfo states: “In the so-called Siglo de Oro (Golden Century), the Castilian poetic tongue experienced a quantum nuclear explosion, with Quevedo and Góngora as opposite generating poles and with Cervantes and picaresque novels influencing the language of prose.”

“In the 20th century”, he continues, “the two greatest shifts or jolts in Spanish and Latin American poetic language were delivered by the Nicaraguan Rubén Darío and the Chilean Nicanor Parra.”

The author also recalls how the appearance of “Poemas y Antipoemas” (Poems and Antipoems) in 1954 was like a depth-charge, the importance for which would only be recognized after a decade.

A transgressor by nature, Parra is currently one of the most widely read poets in Chile. In Spain he is not yet as well known, although in 2001 he lectured at the sample “Artefactos visuales” (Visual artifacts) that brought together 267 mordant works criticizing consumption and globalization. In addition, his Complete Works were published in 2006 by Galaxia Gutenberg-Círculo de Lectores, edited by Ignacio Echevarría and Niall Binns.

It is precisely Binns himself who doesn’t hesitate to call Parra “the last vanguardist” of the times and to rate his poetry as one of the highest contemporary expressions of the Spanish language.

The book also includes poems from the collections “Cancionero sin nombre”, “De 8 nuevos poetas chilenos”, “Ejercicios respiratorios”, “Cueca larga”, “Versos de salón”, “Canciones rusas”, “La camisa de fuerza”, “Los profesores”, “Emergency Poems”, “Artefactos”, “Sermones y prédicas del Cristo del Elqui”, “Y ahora con ustedes” and “Gracias por los aplausos”. It will soon be available all over Latin America.

Throughout its history, Chile has been renowned as a country of great poets and writers. In addition to Pablo Neruda, Gabriela Mistral also obtained the Nobel Prize for Literature for her notable work as a poet. Recently, Hernán Rivera Letelier became the second Chilean to win the prestigious Alfaguara award, following the footsteps of author Carlos Droguett, who in 1970 won the prize for his work “Todas esas muertes” (All those deaths).

This post is also available in Spanish