Monday, March 7, 2011

A Whimiscal Look at Parra's "Antipoems"

I picked up this collection because Roberto Bolaño said that he gave up on Neruda and followed Parra. I love Bolaño so I followed him to Parra. Parra is different from Bolaño so if you follow Bolaño don't be surprised when you discover Parra. They are different; their poetry is different.

Parra is an antipoet. What does that mean? According to the translator's introduction, "antipoetry mirrors poetry, not as its adversary but as its perfect complement."

The book contains both the original Spanish version, which is good (all translation works should contain the original), and the English translation. Ms Werner captures the spirit, the humor, and the sense of Parra's poetry.

One of my favorite poetic ideas is from Holderlin, who calls for us to live poetically. I suppose Parra would say Holderlin is a poet. Parra, the antipoet, responds in his short poem "Poetry Poetry" to Holderlin's sentiment:"Poetry Poetry it's all poetry/we make poetry/ even when we're going to the bathroom." I think you can see from this fragment the antipoet at work.

Parra reminds me of the surrealists but he is not one. There is something quite material about his poetry. Within the poems you feel the steel of a political mind.

One of my favorite poems of the collection is "Stop Racking Your Brain." The whole poem consists of three lines but it is quite true and sad for people interested in poetry: "Stop Racking your brains/nobody reads poetry nowadays/it doesn't matter if it's good or bad."

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