Ilan Stavans, the Lewis-Sebring Professor in Latin American and Latino Culture, has edited The FSG Book of Twentieth-Century Latin American Poetry: An Anthology (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2011). To mark the book’s official publication date of Tuesday, March 29, Stavans will conduct a discussion and poetry reading with poet and University of Massachusetts Professor Martín Espada at 4:30 p.m. in the Cole Assembly Room of Converse Hall.
Chronicling a century of extraordinary political change and highlighting the diversity and polarities in Latin American poetic traditions, the anthology includes verse by world-famous figures such as Jose Martí, Jorge Luis Borges, Octavio Paz and Pablo Neruda along with less-widely-known names such as Gloria Gevirtz and Humberto Ak’abal. In all, the 84 featured authors hail from more than a dozen countries and write in Spanish, Portuguese, Mapuche, Nahuatl, Quechua, Mazatec, Zapotec, Ladino and Spanglish. Each original poem is placed alongside an English translation; translators include Stavans himself, as well as Elizabeth Bishop, Galway Kinnell, Ursula K. Le Guin, Richard Wilbur ’42 and others. Stavans provides an introduction, describing the literary, historical and political context of the poetry.
“From introspection to protest, spirituality to eroticism, poets illuminate first cultures, colonialism, tyranny, war, liberation, and love over the course of the cataclysmic twentieth century, praising the beauty of the land and lamenting the elusiveness of justice,” wrote Booklist’s Donna Seaman in a glowing review of the anthology.
“Comedy, tragedy, and everything in between ignites this incandescent, century-encompassing, and foundational anthology.”
The New York Times has called Stavans “one of the most influential figures in Latino literature in the United States.” In addition to teaching courses in Spanish and European studies at Amherst, he has written numerous works of fiction and nonfiction, including The Disappearance, Resurrecting Hebrew, The Hispanic Condition, A Critic’s Journey and Gabriel García Márquez: The Early Years. He is the editor of such other collections as The Oxford Book of Jewish Stories, The Poetry of Pablo Neruda, Isaac Bashevis Singer: Collected Stories and Becoming Americans: Four Centuries of Immigrant Writing. He has been honored with an Emmy nomination, a Guggenheim Fellowship, the Pablo Neruda Medal, the Latino Literature Prize, the Antonia Pantoja Award and Chile’s Presidential Medal, among other awards.