Latin Americans have written some of the world's finest poetry in the twentieth century, as the Nobel Prizes awarded to Gabriela Mistral, Pablo Neruda, and Octavio Paz attest. Yet this rich literary production has never been gathered into a single volume that attempts to represent the full range and the most important writers-until now. Here, under one cover, are the major poets and their major works, which appear both in the original language (Spanish or Portuguese) and in excellent English translations.
The poems selected include the most famous representative poems of each poetic tradition, accompanied by other poems that represent the best of that tradition and of each poet's work within it. Tapscott's selections cover the full range, from the Modernist generation though the Mexican Revolutionary post-Moderns and the Vanguardist poets to very contemporary younger writers of political and experimental commitments. In all, eighty-five poets, including Pablo Neruda, Nicanor Parra, Octavio Paz, Gabriela Mistral, Nicolás Guillén, Jorge Luis Borges, Julio Cortazar, Carlos Drummond de Andrade, Carlos Pellicer, César Vallejo, and Cecília Meireles, and over 400 poems are included, often in translations by some of North America's most esteemed poets.
Despite the title, this collection starts with two poets (the Cuban Jos Marti and the Brazilian da Cruz e Sousa) who were born and died before the century began. Yet an impressive array of 20th-century Latin American poets is finally presented. Rather than assigning new translations, anthologist Tapscott (a poet and professor of humanities) favors time-honored ones, such as Ruben Dario by Lysander Kemp (1965) and Gabriela Mistral by Doris Dana (1971). Others, such as Neruda, Borges, and Cabral de Melo Neto, are represented by multiple translators "to point the reader to different possibilities." Each poet's biography is insightful and relevant (e.g., the Cuban Nancy Morejon is described as one rare black woman "at peace with her country"). In his introduction, Tapscott rightly characterizes Latin America as simultaneously partisan and popular, verbally dense, and emotionally accessible. This belongs in all poetry collections but will necessarily duplicate some poets already in the collection.Jack Shreve, Allegany Community Coll., Cumberland, Md.