Selected Poems: Poesia Selecta

Selected Poems: Poesia Selecta

Selected Poems: Poesia Selecta

Selected Poems: Poesia Selecta


"Pales Matos was a native, and lifelong resident, of Puerto Rico. Though he was not black, he became one of the Caribbean's leading advocates of poesia negra (black poetry). His landmark 1937 collection Tuntun de Pasa y Griferia: Poesia Afro-Antillana (Tom-Tom of Kinky Hair and Black Things: Afro-Caribbean Poetry) joyously celebrated the African aspects and source of Puerto Rico's culture and influenced later generations of writers throughout the Western hemisphere." Title Summary field provided by Blackwell North America, Inc. All Rights Reserved


Luis Palés Matos is … probably one of the most important
poets of all Latin America today—though many would con
test this from a conventional viewpoint.

William Carlos Williams,
from the introductory note to his translation
Prelude in Boricua

In 1941, WILLIAM CARLOS WILLIAMS attended the Inter-American Writers Conference in Puerto Rico, where he met Luis Palés Matos. This encounter with a major poet from his mother’s homeland symbolized much for Williams, who from his earliest years had set out to identify the tributary antecedents that flowed into his cultural and artistic genealogy, what he called—referring to both blood and poetry—his “‘line.’” Starting with the seventeenth-century baroque poets Góngora and Quevedo and extending to the twentieth-century Cubists Gris and Picasso, that mainly Spanish “line,” his maternal legacy, also connected him to every Spanish and Latin American writer of his time. When traveling through Andalusia, for example, he was conscious of the spirit of Lorca, who descended from that line. Pablo Neruda, another spiritual brother, was portrayed in a poem by Williams as another of his mother Elena’s sons. So when in 1941 Williams and Luis Palés Matos were introduced, Palés instantly became kindred in Williams’s reconstructed lineage.

In Palés’s 1937 book Tuntún de pasa y grifería: poesía afroanti llana (Tomtom of Kinky Hair and Black Things: Afro-Caribbean . . .

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