Pablo de Rokha was one of the great trio of Chilean modernist poets, along with Vicente Huidobro (2 years his senior) and Pablo Neruda (10 years his junior). All three were communists, all three were great poets, and all three cordially detested each other. De Rokha is the least known of them outside Chile, and this volume redresses that by offering an introduction to this astonishing body of work in the first book-length selection of his work to be published in English.
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Pablo de Rokha was born in 1894 in Licanten, Chile. He died a suicide in1968 in Santiago. Born Carlos Diaz Loyola, his initial schooling took place in the nearby city of Talca and then in San Pelayo, at a seminary. It was here that he had to face up to the a contradiction between religious education and his reading of authors such as Voltaire. It was at this stage of his life that he began to adopt the pseudonym, de Rokha; his fellow students were already calling him "Piedra" (Stone), partly because of his character but also because the name of his home town, Licanten, means "land of the men of stone". After completing his secondary education he entered the University's faculty of Law and Engineering, but abandoned his studies in order to devote himself to literature. He worked as a journalist at the newspapers, La Razon y La Manana. He founded the magazines Dinamo and Multitud, where he was to publish many of his own works as well as those of other writers and literary critics, and travelled throughout the whole of Chile, selling his publications, making a reality of his claim that writing was his true work. In 1916 he married Luisa Anabalon, a poet, who later adopted the pseudonym Winett de Rokha; the pair were inseparable until her death in 1951. They returned to Santiago in 1920, where they edited the journal Numen. He joined the Anarchist Workers' International and later the Communist Party, where he was to become a parliamentary candidate. From that point on, politics was to become a recurring element in his poetry. He took an active part in the Popular Front and in 1937 was elected President of the Casa America, cultural organ of the Communist Party. His work is characterised by the permanent search for new ways of expression: the Latin American, the relationship bbetween the social sphere and the individual, the epic, the religious. Between 1942 and 1949, he travelled with his wife throughout the entire continent, being received enthusiastically in intelectuall circules of the time, which recognised a new voice and a new style of poetry which was multi-facetted and "huge" in scope, wanting to reflect collective realities on a continental level. In 1965 he was awarded the National Literature Prize and in 1968 he suffered the suicide of his son Carlos, also a poet; just a few months later Pablo died at the age of 74, overwhelmed by illness and financial problems.
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