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JAIME QUEZADA

HALLEY’S COMET

In the summer of 1910 Halley’s comet
                           appeared in the skies of Chile
That same year President Pedro Montt died
In 1758 meteorites rained down
And stones of fire burned the many forests
                                                    of the green territory
There was also a drought in 1834
And a plague of rats and mice devastated fields and granaries
        Just like the summer of 1986
Only now including secret jails
        barracks soccer stadiums convents and cities
(And the death of the president)

In the year 2062 Halley’s comet
        will appear again in the skies of Chile
At that time I Jaime Quezada
                                survivor of so much history
Will be in the shadow of an atomic cloud
Scratching myself with what’s left of a rooftop amidst the ash
Or sitting down in a rocking chair of neutrons
In the shade of a new apple tree in bloom
Remembering my father’s childhood
When a picture was taken of him getting off a horse in 1910.

Translation by Steven F. White

JAIME QUEZADA was born in Chile in 1942. Poet, essayist and literary critic. He studied Law and Literature in the University of Concepción, where he founded the literary group Arúspice and the poetry magazine of the same name. Author of Poemas de las cosas olvidadas, 1965; Las palabras del fabulador, 1968; Astrolabio, 1976; Huérfanías, 1985; Un viaje por Solentiname, 1987; No liberto hombre, 1991; Escritos Políticos, 1994; Por un tiempo de arraigo, 1998; Bendita mi lengua sea, 2002; El año de la ira, 2003; Adamita, 2003; Llamadora, 2004, Gabriela Mistral: Nuestra América 2005 and Gabriela Mistral una manera de vivir, 2007. He has studied and researched contemporary chilean literature (specially the life and work of Gabriela Mistral, Pablo Neruda, Nicanor Parra, Gonzalo Rojas and Jorge Teillier). He was the president of the Chilean Writers Society (1989-1992). In the present he is director of the Poetry Workshop of the Pablo Neruda Foundation and president of the Gabriela Mistral Nobel Prize Foundation. For Iván Carrasco Muñoz, of the Austral University of Chile, “Jaime Quezada´s poetry arose under the frame of a given tradition (poetry of locations and antipoetry), incorporating elements that respond to a particular vision of the world. He has sung of everyday things, childhood, family, nature, loneliness. But in the developmente of his work he has destroyed that initial image, demystifying the magical childhood space, looking at the landscape with the eyes of a botanist and an ecologist, assuming a religious perspective, contemplative, prophetic and announcing the sin institutionalized in the world, the danger of humanity´s total destruction, and Chile´s historical contingency. Without a doubt, Quezada´s poetic work is a valuable contribution to contemporary literature. (…) The apocaliptic and prophetic tone of his poetry grants it a differential character in present Chilean poetry.”

Última actualización: 28/06/2018