Raúl Zurita is one of Latin America’s most celebrated and controversial poets. After Augusto Pinochet’s 1973 US-supported military coup that ousted Salvador Allende’s democratically elected government, Zurita’s poetry sought to register the violence and atrocities committed against the Chilean people and the corruption of the Spanish language. During the dictatorship that lasted from 1973 to 1990, Zurita published a trilogy of books (Purgatory, Anteparadise,
and The New Life
), wrote poems in the sky above New York City, bulldozed poems in the Chilean desert, and helped to form the art collective “Colectivo de Accion de Arte” that used performance as an act of political resistance. Of his early poetry, C.D. Wright
has written: “Under the eyes of church and dictatorship, he began to write and publish his poetry, juxtaposing secular and sacred, ruled and unruled. With a mysterious admixture of logic and logos, Christian Symbols, brain scans, graphics, and a medical report, Zurita expanded the formal repertoire of his language, of poetic materials, pushing back against the ugly vapidity of rule by force.”
Zurita was awarded the Chilean National Prize for Literature, a scholarship from the Guggenheim Foundation, and he has held poetry readings at numerous American universities including Harvard, Yale, Stanford and Berkeley. His books in English translation include Anteparadise
(translated by Jack Schmitt), Purgatory
(translated by Anna Deeny
(translated by William Rowe) and Song for His Disappeared Love
(translated by Daniel Borzutzky
). He lives in Chile.
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