Reading: Young Poets by Nicanor Parra

Chilean poet Nicanor Parra (1914 – 2018) was also a mathematician, physicist and cosmologist and an important figure in Latin American poetry who won the Cervantes prize. His Poemas y Antipoemas is a classic of Latin American literature. I read ‘Young poets’ in a translation by Miller Williams:

Young Poets

Write as you will
In whatever style you like
Too much blood has run under the bridge
To go on believing
That only one road is right.

In poetry everything is permitted.

With only this condition of course,
You have to improve the blank page.

It’s a simple imperative, but worth remembering that we should aim at improving the blank page. Or perhaps the blank page is valuable only because we write so much. The metaphor of the blood that flows under the bridge doesn’t match my own living environment, and probably not yours either. But we too believe that now only one road is right (or that there is no right road at all). And we also demand that in poetry everything is permitted, except doing nothing.

According to Wikipedia, a fictionalized version of Parra appeared in Alejandro Jodorowsky’s autobiographical film Endless Poetry (2016).

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