Sunday, April 26, 2015

Discovering Pablo Neruda

Work in Progress: The Latest from the Front Lines of Literature
An Ode to the Captain: Discovering Pablo Neruda
Casey Rocheteau
On Writers
Pablo Neruda found me in a strange way. I was still a teenager, obsessed with the Beats and pouring over Whitman in English class. I enjoyed writing poetry, but did not yet take it seriously. I was standing in the poetry section of the Barnes and Noble in the Cape Cod Mall, with my boyfriend, who was also an aspiring poet, trying to discern what new book to bite into. An older man who looked identical to Charles Bukowski, down to the mole on his face, appeared from around the corner of the shelf. Returning a book to the shelf, the man said, "This is what you should be reading. That's the good stuff." As he walked away, I looked to see what he had put back. It was a bilingual edition of The Captain's Verses. Incredulous, I asked my boyfriend "did Bukowski's ghost just tell us to read Neruda?"

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Negotiating the Sky
John Freeman and Adonis
In Conversation
The poet Ali Ahmed Said, better known by his pen name, Adonis, was born in a mountain village of a few hundred people in Northwestern Syria in 1930. For the past thirty-some years, Adonis has lived in Paris, but continues to write in Arabic. His poems of exile and longing reflect a long life spent, for political reasons, outside of his native Syria. He despairs of the war that rages there now, and does not see easy solutions. During a free-ranging conversation in New York City at the PEN World Voices Festival last spring, the spry, eighty-four-year-old poet explained how the forces behind his modern voice are actually centuries old. He also spoke boldly against the force of organized religion within the Middle East and Syria.

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