We’ll have a review of FSG’s quite impressive Book of Twentieth-Century Latin American Poetry in the next issue of The Quarterly Conversation.
The LA Times has a review this week, which is nice, but, well, they might have given it to someone who knew what they were talking about:
Yet, despite my inspirational environs, for many years my knowledge of Latin American poetry was limited to a handful of stalwarts like Neruda, the nonpareil of romantic yearning, and his compatriot and fellow Nobel Prize-winner Gabriela Mistral. Some poets I’d known better as political prophets and provocateurs than as verse-makers (José Martí, Ernesto Cardenal, Roque Dalton). I’d read and re-read the brilliant, book-length essays of Octavio Paz (yet another Nobel recipient) but was far less acquainted with his poetry, drawn not only from the deep cenotes, or sinkholes, of Mesoamerican mythology but also from his scholarly immersion in Sanskrit, Japanese haiku and whatever else his elegant mind alighted on.
For that reason, among others, I’m grateful for the publication of “The FSG Book of Twentieth-Century Latin American Poetry,” which thoughtfully gathers selected works of these relatively familiar names, along with many deserving lesser-known ones. Handsomely printed and designed, the collection has been astutely edited by Ilan Stavans, the prolific author and Amherst College professor who has done as much as anyone alive to bridge the hemisphere’s linguistic gaps, and it boasts an all-star lineup of translators.
I’m as pleased as anyone with a reviewer brave enough to admit his ignorance in print. But a paper with the resources of the Times at its disposal should have been able to find someone with the chops to give us a serious critique this anthology, rather than just list the names of the people involved.