Poetry. Latinx Studies. Translated by Tony Frazer. The prose-poem TEMBLOR DE CIELO is more apparently unified work than its contemporary work, Altazor, although this might owe more to its style of delivery: an ecstatic outpouring of words that largely revolve around the themes of love, sex and death. The Isolde to whom much of the poem is addressed is an idealised feminine figure—part goddess, part idealised beloved, part Isolde from Wagner's opera (another ecstatic outpouring on the theme of love, sex and death) and part Ximena Amunátegui, the young woman who had become the poet's second wife. The poem is also a sustained lyric effusion of a kind that Huidobro had never produced before, and it marks the point at which his work moves on from the barnstorming avant-garderie of his younger years to a more mature style, albeit one influenced by surrealism, a movement which Huidobro had previously attacked. It is also the last time that Huidobro was to adopt the god-like narrative persona that occurs in his earlier work. In TEMBLOR, as in some earlier works, God is conflated with the poet-creator, as he is in Altazor, where the opening lines reflect the opening of a love-poem addressed to Ximena that the author published (to great scandal) in the Santiago newspaper, La Nación.
The Chilean poet Vicente Huidobro (1893-1948) is one of the most important figures in 20th-century Hispanic poetry and, with César Vallejo, one of the pioneering avant- gardists in Spanish. Originally from an upper-class Santiago family, Huidobro was fortunate to have the means to support himself and his family while he found his artistic way. After an early phase writing in a quasi-symbolist style in his native city, he moved to Paris and threw himself into the local artistic milieu with a passion, quickly becoming a notable figure, publishing a large number of books in the period 1917-1925. Influenced initially by Apollinaire, Huidobro quickly befriended both forward-looking French writers such as Reverdy, Cocteau and Radiguet, and the Spanish expatriate artists, including Picasso and Juan Gris. He reached his poetic maturity in 1931 with the publication of two master-pieces: the long poem, Altazor, and the book-length prose-poem Temblor de cielo (Skyquake). Two further collections would follow during his lifetime, both published in Santiago in 1941. While he also published successful novels and plays, it is for his poetry that he is best remembered today.Author City: Santiago CHL
Tony Frazer is the publisher of Shearsman Books, founder of Shearsman magazine, and occasional translator from German and Spanish. He is engaged in a large project to bring the majority of Vicente Huidobro's poetry into English.