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Purgatory: A Bilingual Edition

Purgatory: A Bilingual Edition
Author: Raul Zurita
ISBN 13: 9780520259737
ISBN 10: 520259734
Edition: Bilingual ed.
Publisher: University of California Press
Publication Date: 2009-11-02
Format: Paperback
Pages: 136
List Price: $29.95

"As citizens of the United States of 'America,' we have most recently in our national election responded to an horrific chapter in our nation's history. But there remain other wicked events for which we have yet to answer. Certainly U.S. complicity in the evil that befell Chile on September 11 (1973) is one of them.
In Purgatory, Zurita's bleak but searching poem, the poet shares with us his struggles to reconnect to his humanity. We should be grateful for Anna Deeny's translation and afterword, and for bringing Zurita to us."—David Bonior, Chair, American Rights at Work

[praise for Anteparadise, translated by Jack Schmitt]

"Chile's tragic recent history provides the fire in which this young poet's Dantean visions have been forged. The poetry that emerges is by turns cold, molten, scathing, and ultimately liberating—a remarkable thing."—John Ashbery

"Zurita's sequence of poems—and they must be read as a sequence—creates as it explores a geography of earth, body, and soul, a syntax of pain and topology, an imagery of flesh and land painfully entwined, ultimately freed in joyful pastoral. . . . This is ground-breaking, mind-breaking, bone-breaking style; the miracle is that Zurita heals all by the end, wringing triumph out of anguish."—Ronald Christ

Publishers Weekly

In a voice highly attuned to paradox and instability, Zurita confronts the traumatic upheaval brought on by Augusto Pinochet's 1973–1990 U.S.-backed military dictatorship over the Chilean people. Zurita's electrifying poems recount a multitude of transformations and philosophical reorientations (“Today I moo with my head about to fall/ as the church bells' mournful clanging/ says that milk goes to market”) brought on by this terrifying chapter in Latin American history. A central section, “The Desert of Atacama,” offers an array of shifting perspectives on “the convergent and divergent landscapes” where the self, in a Whitmanesque turn, both disappears and contains multitudes: ”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.” Lucidly translated by Deeny (whose afterword insightfully contextualizes Zurita within the broader Latin American poetics), this bilingual edition of a politically and formally revolutionary text is an exciting literary event. (Nov.)