Raul Zurita, Purgatory, translated by Anna Deeny
University of California Press, 2009
This powerful book is the work of one of the important poets writing in Spanish today. Chilean poet Raúl Zurita was arrested and tortured the day of Pinochet's coup. The poems in Purgatory stem from the violence of that day and of Pinochet's military dictatorship. The poems are strange and experimental and speak from many identities. Equations, images, and sometimes a title may appear before and after a poem. The works are interspersed with documents: a photograph, a letter, an EEG. Yet, rather than reading as fragmented, the book strikes at the unique pain, fear, and anger of oppression. The poems' equations, landscapes, and plainspoken moments reflect on how to live within the memory of a place and life that has been destroyed. Anna Deeny's translations bring into English leaps in language and sonic play that make the poems palpable. C. D. Wright's foreword shines light on the importance and history of the poet.