Purgatory

Raul Zurita, Author, Anna Deeny, Translator, C. D. Wright, Foreword by , trans. from the Spanish by Anna Deeny. Univ. of California $19.95 (136p) ISBN 978-0-520-25973-7

In a voice highly attuned to paradox and instability, Zurita confronts the traumatic upheaval brought on by Augusto Pinochet's 1973–1990 U.S.-backed military dictatorship over the Chilean people. Zurita's electrifying poems recount a multitude of transformations and philosophical reorientations (“Today I moo with my head about to fall/ as the church bells' mournful clanging/ says that milk goes to market”) brought on by this terrifying chapter in Latin American history. A central section, “The Desert of Atacama,” offers an array of shifting perspectives on “the convergent and divergent landscapes” where the self, in a Whitmanesque turn, both disappears and contains multitudes: ”my form begins to touch your form and your form/ that other form like that until all of Chile is nothing but/ one form with open arms: a long form crowned with thorns.” Lucidly translated by Deeny (whose afterword insightfully contextualizes Zurita within the broader Latin American poetics), this bilingual edition of a politically and formally revolutionary text is an exciting literary event. (Nov.)

Reviewed on: 11/16/2009
Release date: 11/01/2009
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FORMATS
Hardcover - 136 pages - 978-0-520-25972-0
Open Ebook - 117 pages - 978-1-282-77268-7
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