Nicanor Parra

A Chilean poet and physicist born in 1914, Parra has taken the precision of scientific language and the plain speech of North American modernism and mixed it with his own sardonic humor to invent what he calls “antipoetry,” a poetry pitched against Latin American high rhetoric. New Directions has published Poems and Antipoems (1967); Emergency Poems (1972); Antipoems: New and Selected (1985); and Antipoems: How to Look Better & Feel Great (2004). Also in English translation is Sermons and Homilies of the Christ of Elqui.

Antipoems: How To Look Better & Feel Great

by Nicanor Parra

Translated from the Spanish by Liz Werner

“Real seriousness,” Nicanor Parra, the Antipoet of Chile, has said, rests in “the comic.” And read in that light, this newest bilingual collection of his work––the first in twenty years––is very serious indeed. It is an abundant offering of his signature mocking humor, subverting received conventions and pretensions in both poetry and everyday life, public and private, ingeniously and wittily rendered into English in an antitranslation (the word is Parra’s) by Liz Werner.…
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Antipoems: New And Selected

Antipoems: New and Selected, a fresh bilingual gathering as well as retrospective of the work of Chile’s foremost poet, reintroduces him to North American readers after thirteen years. Though he has been hardly unproductive, the politics of his homeland have channeled his inventiveness into new modes of expression, which remind us of the sometimes sly hermeticism of Italian writers, Eugenio Montale and Elio Vittorini among them, during the Fascist regime. As Frank MacShane makes clear in his introduction, Parra has not tried to escape repression, but by “using his wit and his humor, he has shown how the artist can still speak the truth in troubled times.…
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Emergency Poems

Emergency Poems is the Chilean poet Nicanor Parra’s second bilingual collection published by New Directions. The spare, often grim irony of the first Poems and Antipoems (1967)—a wide selection gleaned from his four earliest books—established his reputation with a North American reading public used to the more formal language of conventional Spanish-speaking poets. Since then he has traveled extensively in this country, teaching, lecturing, and reading from his own work; while in Chile he received the 1969 Premio Nacional de Literatura (National Literature Prize) for his Obra Gruesa, from which many of the pieces in Emergency Poems are drawn.…
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Nicanor Parra over everyone else.
—Roberto Bolaño
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