The Mexican poet Octavio Paz once remarked that in Chile there is a poet under every rock. On rare occasions one of these
poets emerges from beneath a very strange-looking boulder indeed, with the power and talent to affect a generation. Hahn’s new
book—ably translated by Hoggard—seems to be the work of such a genius. A survivor of Augusto Pinochet’s jails, Hahn
published Arte de Morir (The Art of Dying) in Buenos Aires in 1977 and was immediately praised as the premier poet of his
generation by several Latin American critics. Today, Hahn is known as one of the masters of postmodernism in Chile. With his
metaphysical and ironic poem "Read My Defective Verses Lord," he invokes not only the voices of the English metaphysical
poets John Donne and George Herbert but also the Spanish spirituality of Don Luis de Gongora and the mystical songs of Saint
John of the Cross. In such poems as "Oral Hygiene," "Nietzsche in the Sanatorium at Basel," "Rocking Chair," and "At the Beach
of the Unconscious," he takes ordinary situations and images and implants within them a kind of surrealist grenade that explodes
when least expected—and with striking effect. Hahn also builds upon the Chilean tradition of Vicente Huidobro’s fantastical poetic
experiments and Pablo Neruda’s desperate verses.
A worthy find for Latin American-poetry enthusiasts.