Nicanor Parra Nicanor Segundo Parra Sandoval (born 5 September 1914) is a Chilean poet, mathematician, and physicist. He is considered an influential poet in Chile and throughout Latin America. Some rank him among the most important poets of Spanish language literature. Parra describes himself as an “anti-poet,” due to his distaste for standard poetic pomp and function; after recitations he exclaims “Me retracto de todo lo dicho” (“I take back everything I said”). All about Parra, Wikipedia, here
We are too old to be unhappy, and it is too late to die young. Together or one by one we sit reading the newspapers. Just so we won’t have to be all alone with our speculations.
You lie awake at night listening to the murmur of the universe and the world’s great gaping yawn, and your thoughts are creating endless spirals: what should a man do with his life? I’m lonely, I’m lonely, deepest down I am lonely. This is how it is to be human. Born one by one, each one receiving a single name and a single fate. But it is possible to reach out to one another with a caress - and with words
Something has happened
We want to leave traces
But language is no private invention.
To love, to be abandoned;
to discover the clock that counts the seconds
inside the body. The pain in the light,
helpless grief. Language knows all that.
What then is my own? Is it possible
to gain personal experience
and attach words to it
that are not simply conventional?
To make an addition?
Something has happened, something big,
yet I cannot explain
what it is.
Assertions betray themselves.
I must accept my embarrassment –
and listen to the words
reproducing with reality
(the poem is translated by Martin Aitken)
I’m Not a Sentimental Old Man
a baby leaves me absolutely cold
I wouldn’t take a baby in my arms
even if the world were caving in
every man scratches his own itch
I can’t stand a family get-together
I’d rather be stuck in the eye with a sharp stick
than play with my nephews
my grandchildren don’t move me very much either
what I mean is they set my nerves on edge
the second they see me come back from the coast
they come running at me with open arms
as if I were Santa Claus
little sons of bitches!
who the hell do they imagine I am
I TAKE BACK EVERYTHING I´VE SAID
Before I go
I’m supposed to get a last wish:
burn this book
It’s not at all what 1 wanted to say
Though it was written in blood
It’s not what I wanted to say.
No lot could be sadder than mine
I was defeated by my own shadow:
My words took vengeance on me.
Forgive me, reader, good reader
If I cannot leave you
With a warm embrace. I leave you
With a forced and sad smile.
Maybe that’s all I am
But listen to my last word:
I take back everything I`ve said.
With the greatest bitterness in the world
I take back everything I`ve said.
— the poems translated by Miller Williams
The Chilean president Michelle Bachelet congratulates Nicanor Parra at home in La Cruces
Niels Hav is a full time poet and short story writer living with his family in Copenhagen. In English he has We Are Here, published by Book Thug, and poetry and fiction in numerous magazines including The Literary Review, Ecotone, Exile, The Los Angeles Review and PRISM International. In his native Danish the author of six collections of poetry and three books of short fiction. His work has been translated into several languages such as Arabic, Turkish, Spanish, Dutch, Polish, Serbian and Chinese. Raised on a farm in western Denmark, Niels Hav today resides in the most colourful and multiethnic part of the capital. He has travelled widely in Europe, Asia, North and South America. Awarded several grants from The Danish Arts Council. “... Niels Hav’s We Are Here… brings to us a selection from the works of one of Denmark’s most talented living poets and is all the more welcome for that reason….” - Frank Hugus, The Literary Review