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2 The Poetics of Sensing Decolonial Verses in Antipoetry and Conversational Poetry La literatura vive en relación con su época, pero también en relación con la literatura. [Literature lives in relation to its time, but also in relation to literature.] Roberto Fernández Retamar, “Antipoesía y poesía conversacional en Hispanoamérica” Following Fernández Retamar’s critical suggestion that literature is at once rooted within its time and also exists in relation to literature writ large, one of the goals of this chapter is to establish points of connection and correlation among four distinct and even fragmentary approaches to using vernacular language to write poetry, specifically in examples drawn from Nicanor Parra, Mario Benedetti, Ernesto Cardenal, and Roque Dalton . A second issue that I seek to address is poetry’s contribution to a genealogy of decolonial thinking and sensing. To begin engaging with these two questions, there will be two connecting threads: Mario Benedetti and Nicanor Parra. Benedetti is particularly useful in the present chapter with his articulation of the “poeta comunicante” [poet-as-communicator], since the term encompasses the poetic approaches of Parra, Benedetti, Cardenal, and Dalton. Benedetti defines the poet-as-communicator in two ways. On the one hand, the poet-as-communicator becomes preoccupied with establishing a clear and direct line of communication with his or her reader, and thus invites the reader into a dialogue. At the same time, in Benedetti’s conception, the poet-as-communicator bridges historical and cultural gaps, while transmitting changes in generational attitudes x 40 · Sensing Decolonial Aesthetics in Latin American Arts (Benedetti, “Prólogo” 14–15). Moreover, Benedetti ascribes a sense of urgency in political and social terms to the poet-as-communicator’s craft, which explains why the language of communication must be straightforward and clearly say what it needs to say. Writing poetry becomes a way to create art that is primarily addressed to an everyday audience, with the objective of delivering a message, inviting the reader into a dialogue, and shifting perceptions of poetry as a form that uses a hermetic and apolitical language that fails to connect with pressing and material concerns of vast sectors of the population. In this conception of poetry’s directness, shifting the focus of poetry’s primary intended audience is already an invitation to decolonize the legacy of poetry’s hermeticism, running from Latin America’s romanticism through modernismo and many of the historical vanguards. For instance, critic Alberto Julián Pérez situates the poetic contributions of César Vallejo in his Poemas humanos (1923–1938), Pablo Neruda in Canto General (1950), and a later generation that includes Benedetti, Dalton, Claribel Alegría, Antonio Cisneros, and Cardenal as contributing and belonging to a progression and growth in social realist art. Regarding this grouping of authors seeking to distance themselves from hermetic poetry and instead move poetry toward social and political engagement, Pérez writes: “La poesía hispanoamericana alcanza especialmente su gran madurez artística con este arte realista socialista, gracias a su feliz incorporaci ón del referente social y politico, la historia y la cultura de Hispanoam érica” [Spanish American poetry specifically reaches its great artistic maturity with this social realist art, which productively incorporates political and social references, and Spanish America’s history and culture] (274). Such a grouping under the category of social realist art, particularly in terms of poetry, is appropriate due to the variety of ways in which these poets engage social, political, historical, and cultural Latin American referents. While I tend to agree with this overall grouping as one that aims to put poetry in more direct relation to a heterogeneous questioning of social, political, and historical issues afflicting most sectors of Latin American society, it is also widely known that Benedetti, Parra, and Dalton sought to align themselves more with Vallejo’s poetic legacy than with Neruda’s, despite the fact that Neruda has been widely read as one of Latin America’s most Marxist and more ideologically focused poets of the first half of the twentieth century. While there is value in continuing to The Poetics of Sensing: Decolonial Verses · 41 read these poets as part of a social realist genealogy of committed poetry, Benedetti’s category of poet-as-communicator serves to establish more nuanced distinctions in poetic production and intention among the poets in this group. Part of the act of communicating through poetry implies a heterogeneity in poetic expression that mixes politics and a...


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