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New anthology spotlights diversity of modern Latin American poetry


Wednesday, May 25, 2011

"The FSG Book of Twentieth-Century Latin American Poetry: An Anthology," edited by Ilan Stavans; Farrar, Straus & Giroux (729 pages, $50)

Here's the answer to a hypothetical "Jeopardy" query: "Who are Pablo Neruda and, um ...?"

And now, the question: "Which modern Latin American poets could an average U.S. reader likely name without using Google?" No fair if you're counting Ricky Martin, by the way.

Until fairly recently, that would've been my own blushing response. For five years I lived in Mexico City and worked in an office near a beautiful, leafy street named for Ruben Dario, the great Nicaraguan journalist, cultural diplomat and poet. Dario's admiration for the French Symbolists, along with his wariness toward the geopolitical adventurism of Uncle Sam, propelled him, almost single-handedly, to haul Latin American verse into the 20th century under the battle flag of the "Modernismo" movement.

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