Book Selection: The Poetry of Pablo Neruda
Tuesday, September 18, 2012, 8:30 pm
Read any poetry by the great Chilean poet Pablo Neruda and come prepared to share your favorite poems.
Neruda is one of my favorite all time poets. I find myself regularly dipping into his many books. The first collection of his poetry I bought was Pablo Neruda: Selected Poems translated by Anthony Kerrigan, back in 1997. I was immediately taken by his lush, sensual verse. Over the years I have collected quite a few volumes of Neruda poetry. Unfortunately, over the years I have loaned out many of these collections and have never seen them again. Of course this is understandable—who could part with such powerful words. So, I have tried to replace some of those lost books. The great collection of love poems, The Captain’s Verses, is one of those collections that disappeared that I have yet to replace. A few weeks ago I was lamenting the loss of a couple other volumes, when my son overheard me and replied that he had lent them to a friend. They are now happily back on my book shelf.
One of my favorite collections is Extravagaria. I find myself returning to this book more than any other collection. I only wish I knew Spanish so I could read this wonderful stuff in the original.
For those that have not read Neruda before, I suggest perhaps starting with the slender volume Twenty Love Poems and a Song of Despair published very early in his career in 1924. It was this volume that really launched his career as a poet and provides a good though brief introduction to his work. I also recommend Stephen Mitchell’s excellent anthology, Full Woman, Fleshly Apple, Hot Moon: Selected Poems of Pablo Neruda and Kerrigan’s Pablo Neruda: Selected Poems. For the more ambitious, the anthology The Poetry of Pablo Neruda translated by Ilan Stavans is supposed to be excellent. At over 1000 pages it will give you a very complete look at the different poems he wrote throughout his life.