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The Desert of Atacama VII

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i.  Let's look then at the Desert of Atacama

ii. Let's look at our loneliness in the desert

So that desolate before these forms the landscape becomes
a cross extended over Chile and the loneliness of my form
then sees the redemption of the other forms:   my own
Redemption in the Desert

iii.  Then who would speak of the redemption of my form

iv.  Who would tell of the desert's loneliness

So that my form begins to touch your form and your form
that other form like that until all of Chile is nothing but
one form with open arms:   a long form crowned with thorns

v.   Then the Cross will be nothing but the opening arms
     of my form

vi.  We will then be the Crown of Thorns in the Desert

vii.  Then   nailed form to form   like a Cross
      extended over Chile   we will have seen forever
      the Final Solitary Breath of the Desert of Atacama

Raúl Zurita, "The Desert of Atacama VII" from Purgatory, translated by Anna Deeny. Copyright © 2009 by Raúl Zurita.  Reprinted by permission of University of California Press.
Source: Purgatory (University of California Press, 2009)
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The Desert of Atacama VII

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  • 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...

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