Raul Zurita

Nicanor Parra's 100

Disorienting poetry for a century

Nicanor Parra and Allen Ginsberg – Photo Credit: Vivian Selbo.
Nicanor Parra and Allen Ginsberg – Photo Credit: Vivian Selbo.

The great Nicanor Parra turned one-hundred years old last September. Obviously, nobody has wanted to miss the opportunity to celebrate and honor the world-renowned anti-poet. Local and foreign media have been publishing extensive biographies, reviews, and special notes on Parra’s life and work (some examples here, here, here, and here). Also different institutions in Chile have organized activities such as exhibitions and collective readings. The Gabriela Mistral Cultural Center (GAM) installed a photo exhibit labeled as his “first visual biography,” organized an international seminar about anti-poetry, and launched the book “Nicanor Parra or the art of demolition” by the British poet and scholar, Niall Binns. The National Council for Culture and Arts organized a collective reading called “National Parra-phrase” where people were invited to simultaneously read the poem “The Imaginary Man” (watch a video here), and Diego Portales University put together a remarkable exhibition of his visual work, installations, and his famous “Artifacts.”

VIVA CADA!

LOTTY ROSENFELD. No +, 1983: Foto: Jorge Brantmayer
LOTTY ROSENFELD. No +, 1983: Foto: Jorge Brantmayer

Halfway through the 60s, art in Chile had developed mainly on two fronts: one with a critical and international vocation that included the experiments of conceptual art, and another, more committed to the political context. When the military coup happened in 1973, political art was completely removed from the picture. Pinochet’s dictatorship began to impose a regime of censorship and persecution, which strongly affected the local cultural scene. With many artists and authors imprisoned, tortured, assassinated, and exiled, the national artistic production was practically paralyzed.

Grosman and Niblock: Video poetry at PennSound

Hannah Weiner in Phill Niblock's film

Ernesto Livon-Grosman's poetry video of Roberto Cignoni, Jorge Santiago Perednik, Reina Maria Rodriguez (pictured), and Raul Zurita (as well as my collaboration with Perednick)
new at PennSound

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