Pinholes in the Night: Essential Poems from Latin America

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Curated by award-winning Chilean poet Zurita, this bilingual anthology features one poem apiece from 18 Latin American poets. The selections, many of them quite lengthy, are intended to strike readers like “the vastness of the Pacifico r the peaks of the Andes.” Zurita has chosen poets close to home, with six compatriot Chileans, and a preponderance of male poets. In an articulate and generous introduction, Zurita evaluates the authors against that pinacle of Chilean male poets, Pablo Neruda. Each featured poet engages Neruda’s legacy with vayring measures of reverence, malice, imitation, and satire. Gabriela Mistral’s role is as a foreshadowing figure; Nicanor Parra writes of the everyday; and Pablo de Rokha’s fixation is with the ruins, not the heights, of Macchu Picchu. While Zurita favors long lines and mythopoetic subject matter, the anthology benefits from Mexican poet Jaime Sabines’ disinterest in apocalyptic heroics, as well as Nicaraguan poet Ernesto Cardenal’s relatively brief, tragicomic “Prayer for Marilyn Monroe.” Likewise, Zurita’s inclusión of first-generation Argentines Alejandra Pizarnik and Juan Gelman adds to this well-defined, important primer on Latin American poetics. –Diego Baez