Poetic inspiration from Latin America

Feb 16, 2017, 10:22 IST | Krutika Behrawala

An Argentine professor will introduce you to the delights of Neruda and Paz from a continent that thrives on its literary traditions

Illustration/Uday Mohite

This Friday, if you drop in at Zen Cafe in Lower Parel, you'll spot guests lending a keen ear to Bernardo Massoia as he recites works of notable Peruvian, Chilean and Mexican poets in English, Spanish and Hindi translations. The 40-year-old professor of literature at National College, Buenos Aires, is an authority on Latin American literature, his subject of research for the last 14 years. Currently in India for a visit, Massoia is set to introduce Mumbai to the continent's poetry at a session organised by The Poetry Club.

Bernardo Massoia
Bernardo Massoia

Co-founder Ankita Shah shares, "We met him through Udayan Thakker (noted Gujarati poet) and are thrilled to collaborate with him. We believe, people who love the written word are also curious about literature in languages other than their own. The poems open a continent of ideas, history and conflicts. The session is for both, those familiar with the literature as well as those who want to introduce themselves to it." The club has previously organised sessions discussing French protest poetry and had open mics on regional language poetry.

Latin America boasts of a strong and heterogeneous literary tradition, influenced by indigenous, Spanish, African and Caribbean Islands cultures. The continent has produced greats like Nobel Prize-winning Chilean poet-diplomat Pablo Neruda, eminent Mexican poet Octavio Paz and Peruvian great César Vallejo among others. "Vallejo is considered one of the most original, experimental and autochthonous Latin American poets. Through him, Peruvian literature began to reclaim a position in the greatest literary traditions," shares Massoia, who will provide a brief description of each litterateur and share how their poetry has created a universal impact in the 20th century. He adds, "Poets like Alfonsina Storni and Alejandra Pizarnik have redesigned the map of poetry in the West with their writing."

He will also highlight the writers' efforts to move beyond the inherited Spanish language of the colonisers, a language much of Latin American poetry was written in. Case in point: The works of Peruvian novelist José María Arguedas. "He has written only seven poems in the indigenous Quechua language, and then translated them into Spanish. Currently, he is considered the most important poet in Quechua."

At the session, the professor has brought some of Vallejo's works in Hindi, published by Sahitya Akademi. "The other poems will be read in English with fragments in Spanish to register the sound and enunciation," he sums up.

ON: February 18, 4 pm to 6 pm 
AT: Zen Cafe (at the mezzanine level of ICasa, Raghuvanshi Mills, Lower Parel. 
EMAIL: thepoetryclubmumbai@gmail.com

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