Monday, January 21, 2008

ON CONTEMPORARY LATIN AMERICAN POETRY: A LECTURE

I will deliver a lecture on contemporary Latin American poetry at the American Centre on Galle Road in Colombo, on Wednesday January 23rd at 6 p.m. Some months ago I was invited to a gathering on poetry in the Americas and I have for some time thought about the idea of seeing Latin American poetry from the vantage point of its Northern neighbor. I will post the lecture here in due course.

For the moment, let me leave you with the first paragraph

Midnight has passed and I wonder still how to speak about the backyard. How could I have let the grass, weeds and bracken grow so thick? There must be all sorts of insects, butterflies and rodents flying and scampering about...rivers with mysterious Indian names: Orinoco, Amazon, Parana...gold, shawls and quixotic guerrillas with masked faces...a few Nobel Laureates as well celebrated on birthdays and prize days and in some houses on ordinary Sundays. How to speak of people, squat and brown in highlands, where the air fails to deliver oxygen to the bones, and tall and bronzed on the beaches of Rio and on the cobblestones of Cartagena. How to speak of a continent which I know through poems and fictions, where I have set foot in just a few places, Mexico, Argentina, Chile, Uruguay, Brazil, El Salvador. "

-- from Beyond The Backyard: Reflections on Contemporary Latin American Poetry c) 2008 Indran Amirthanayagam