The well known ignored Chilean poet
13.02.2008 -17 °C
Alright, writing from Santiago de Chile. Note I will provide links to things that are interesting and useful to know, but I don´t have time to discuss in great detail.
Today I met with well known Chilean poet, Floridor Pérez. It took us over an hour to find each other in the crowded La Moneda metro station. To understand rapid muffled Chilean Spanish through a cell phone with lots of ambient noise is difficult for me. His white beard, beret, and gentle manner exude his sensitivity and I felt guilty for making him wander around. He had seen me in our original meeting place at the planned time, but didn´t think it was me because I was sitting down and not looking like a tourist.
He had written an article about re-hiking Neruda´s route, the same one I am going to do. He and a group of other poets and writers did it 10 years ago to commemorate the 50th anniversary. Much of their experience was by car and they did not seem to take the full true wilderness route.
We wandered around downtown Santiago aimlessly looking for a photocopy place. Finally we found one just a block from where we were supposed to have met. From there, we sat down in the shade (he was tired) chatted for a bit and then said goodbye. He seemed about out of it in general, but he hugged me.
I think he was a affectionate because at the end of our conversation I expressed interest in his own work and then then started righting down all of of stuff for me to check out, including diagrams of how to find his work in the National Library. His vibrancy in talking about his own work was far greater than talking about Neruda, even though he has written numerous article about the famous poet and even edited an anthology. I read the article we photocopied, and frankly it was sloppy. It talked more about his suitcase than the trip and their was a strange gap in the chronology. Floridor is sick and tired of Neruda.
I went to the library and found a book of poems of his called ¨Letter from a Prisioner¨ and flipped through it. It seem like a heartfelt account of what was like to be a prisoner during Pinochet´s regime. I didn´t read it thoroughly or too carefully. It´s not that I thought it was bad. For all I know, it could be as wonderful as Neruda´s, but I simply didn´t have time. I´m here for Neruda, and I even surprised myself by spending this much time with Floridor and his work.
You type "Floridor Pérez¨ in google at you get about 3,500 hits, not bad for a Chilean poet. You type in ¨Pablo Neruda¨ and you get 2.8 million, from The Chilean poet. The disparity is not fair. That´s what happens in writing and most other artistic pursuits. A few through luck, hard work, talent, and perseverance, get all the attention, money, acclaim, while the rest don´t go completely unnoticed, but truth is few will remember them after they pass away.
That´s the feeling I got from Floridor. He was happy to help me with Neruda, but he is old enough to be thinking about dying and something was unsettling that I was more interested in talking about someone dead 35 years then someone still alive, fighting, writing, and hugging.
Anyways, onwards with Neruda. If anyone knows someone that´ll pay to write about Floridor Perez, lemme know, and I´ll do it.
Tomorrow I´m meeting with a Neruda scholar who´s a big fan of my grandma cousin´s jazz music. Al Cohn is his name.