THE SELECTED POETRY OF VICENTE HUIDOBRO by Vicente Huidobro

THE SELECTED POETRY OF VICENTE HUIDOBRO

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KIRKUS REVIEW

Among French- and Spanish-readers, poet Huidobro (1893-1941) is much more well-known and highly appreciated than he is here; many feel that he represents the third side to a triangle of excellence which also encompasses Neruda and Vallejo. An early ÉmigrÉ to France from his native Chile, Huidobro, with Apollinaire and Reverdy, founded the influential journal Nord-Sud, a cubist bastion. But, because of a quarrelsome bent, Huidobro never stayed in any one place or with any one circle for long: he ended his life back in Chile, a bitter enemy of Neruda, although their poetries and politics were in many ways complementary. Editor Guss opts for Huidobro's very long poem Altazar as the masterwork: some of the cantos translated here (in a generally praiseworthy bi-lingual selection) are indeed quite striking, suggesting that the poem is, in effect, a more political version of Apollinaire's ""Zone""; and its hortatory, aerial liveliness anticipates the coarser, bardic works of vintage Allen Ginsberg. Still, it is Huidobro's early European work of the Twenties that seems to hold up most impressively. ""Suspended from the sunset/ Among the clouds a bird is burning/Day after day,"" Huidobro writes in the Spanish poem ""Arctic Seas."" And the French poetry is especially well-translated by Geoffrey Young and Michael Palmer: ""The travellers arrived on a steel wire/Perfectly balanced the way words arrive/Words cross the universe at half-mast/And often get eaten by birds."" In a Huidobro manifesto which is included here, he asserts that ""Each line of a poem is the point of an angle that is closing, not the meeting of an angle opening to every wind."" And this precisionism mixes with a strongly unfettered imagination of sequence and interval in these memorable early poems. Overall: a valuable introduction to a poet whose international importance deserves wider recognition.

Pub Date: Nov. 1st, 1981
ISBN: 0811208044
Publisher: New Directions