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Posts Tagged ‘rules’

Our Twilight Lands

March 26, 2012 | by

Argentinian journalist Leila Guerriero wrote this article, translated by Sarah Foster, based on her interview with Chilean poet Nicanor Parra at his home on the coast of Chile. It was published in the Spanish newspaper El País after Parra was awarded the Cervantes Prize last December. The prize, given by Spain’s Ministry of Culture, is the most prestigious literary award in the Spanish-speaking world. Parra’s poem “Defense of Violeta Parra” appeared in our two-hundredth issue, on newsstands now.

Reaching the house where Nicanor Parra lives, on Lincoln Street in Las Cruces, a coastal town two hundred kilometers from Santiago de Chile, is easy. The hard part is reaching him.

Nicanor Parra Oiundo de San Fabian de Alico is the first-born son out of a total of eight children brought into the world by Nicanor Parra, a high school teacher, and Clara Sandoval. He was born in 1914, was twenty-five during World War II, sixty-six when John Lennon was shot, and eighty-seven when the planes hit the towers. Last September, he turned ninety-seven. Some people don’t even know he’s still alive.

Las Cruces is a town with two thousand inhabitants, shielded from the Pacific Ocean by a bay that embraces several towns: Cartagena, El Tabo. Parra’s house is on a cliff, overlooking the sea. In the garden, a staircase comes down to the front door, where local punks have painted graffiti so that no one will dare touch the house; it says, “Antipoetry.” In the foyer, he has written the names and telephone numbers of his children.

Nicanor Parra’s hair is white. He has a long beard and no wrinkles, only furrows in a face that seems to be made of earth. His hands are tanned, no spots or creases, like two roots rinsed in water. Lying on a table is the second volume of his complete works, Obras completas y algo (1975–2006). In its preface, Harold Bloom writes, “I firmly believe that, if the most powerful poet produced by the New World until now is still Walt Whitman, Parra joins him as an essential poet in our Twilight Lands.” At the end of the eighties, when Parra was still living in Santiago, he stopped giving interviews, and, although there have always been exceptions, he often objects to direct questions in unexpected ways, so that a conversation with him is subject to uncertain diversions, into topics that he repeats and brings up for whatever reason: his grandchildren, the Laws of Manu, the Tao Te Ching, Neruda. Read More »


The Rules of the Game

June 9, 2010 | by


Photograph: Isak Aronsson, CC-BY

A director’s take on the 2010 World Cup.

If you want to have a successful World Cup you have to have one team that you absolutely want to win. Three is even better. Five is fantastic. More than seven and you'll start to have trouble keeping them straight.

Herewith, a few guidelines/ground rules:

  1. Everyone is required to support Brazil, it is absolutely the done thing.
  2. It is never ever OK to root for the oppressor over the oppressed—really, how terrible a person are you to want Portugal to beat Angola or France to dispatch Senegal? Hasn’t enough harm been done already? (And so, despite the global love affair with Obama, everyone, all the billions watching around the world, wants the US to lose.)
  3. You can simply follow the team of the country that issued your passport. This puts you in the category of fan, which means you must be willing to enter into arguments with people who don’t like your country about the relative merits of both soccer and national style. I would caution against going too far down this road. It leads to something that feels a lot like politics, which is much less fun than soccer and has, historically, led to many more bouts of hooliganism.
  4. Or you can support both your country of passport and your country of familial origin. Let's say you're Italian-American: Italy is much more likely to win than the US so the odds on your happiness have just improved. (Plus if the Italians win, as they did last time, you have something to crow about over all your friends.) This strategy merits consideration even if the country before the hyphen doesn’t have a prayer but does have a reputation for likeability and a certain grooviness among the fan base. There is nothing better to be at the World Cup than Cameroon—nobody knows anything about the place, but the word itself rolls nicely off the tongue and whenever the camera cuts to the crowd, they seem to be having a good time. Everyone likes Cameroon.
  5. Read More »