Viva celebrates Pablo Neruda

Andy Olson

The spectre of Pablo Neruda, Chilean poet, will visit the campus of Lawrence University this week. In an event sponsored by Viva, students will read poetry by the Nobel Prize-winning Neruda, as well as many other Latin American authors, including Federico Garcia Lorca, Rafael Alberti, and Julia de Burgos. The event is especially significant because this week marks the 100th anniversary of Neruda’s birth.
Viva is a group dedicated to the promotion of Latin culture, literature and language. The recitations of Latin American poetry this week will be by Viva members.
Pablo Neruda was born in Chile in 1904. He was contributing articles to the local newspaper as early as 13, and shortly after that wrote his first published poem, “Entusiasmo y Perseverancia.” Alongside his literary activities, Neruda also studied French and pedagogy at the University of Chile in Santiago. Neruda joined the Chilean Communist party in 1945 and was elected senator of the republic that same year. Pablo Neruda died in 1973.
Neruda was also active in world politics. During his lifetime he was put in charge of a number of honorary consulships, which took him to Burma, Ceylon, Java and Singapore. The Spanish Civil War and consequently Federico Garcia Lorca’s murder affected him and influenced his work profoundly.
Neruda was an exceptionally prolific author. By 1968 his complete works had reached 3,237 pages. Among Neruda’s most popular works are “Veinte Poemas de Amor y una Cancion Desperada,” “Residencia en la tierra,” and “Canto General de Chile.” “Canto General” is an epic poem depicting the history, nature, and people of the entire continent of South America.
In 1971, Pablo Neruda was awarded the Nobel Prize in literature. The selection commented that the award was “for a poetry that with the action of an elemental force brings alive a continent’s destiny and dreams.” Neruda also distinguished himself with an International Peace Prize in 1950 as well as a Stalin Peace Prize in 1953.
So, if you or anyone you know has an interest in Spanish/Latin-American poetry, come down to the Coffeehouse this Friday, Nov. 19 at 8 p.m.