A Enrique Lihn has not dissipated in the street at night nor its precious moon: clotted light in the lamp that darkly illumines that street It’s true, the oxymoron is no more than figure of speech and can commit a premeditated sin But not I, so I hope, if I tell you: one love doesn’t erase another Memory, also, in its way, loves and, as someone said: “there’s nothing forgotten.” However, this edition has “forgotten” what Oliphant calls “Lihn’s more overtly political poems,” and without explanation. No matter, for most of his personal poems bare a political edge. Never a political revolutionary, Lihn nonetheless wrote indictments of Latin American tyranny and U.S. imperialism \(see “The Defeat” and “Age of Sarcasm” in His ironic and truthful voice explored, as always, the limits of language and of self. Since he doubted the little gods of poetry, he had no illusions about the little dictators of propaganda. Critiquing the politics of death and the poetics of life with equal intensity and clarity, Lihn was a force in the twentiethcentury revolution of the word. Figures of Speech invites readers to a dialogue, begun by a poet and his translator over thirty years ago, in which we can participate in Spanish and/or English. Reading the original texts leaves no doubt about their significance and, for those who read Spanish but have no books by Lihn, this representative selection is a bargain. For those who do not read Spanish, Oliphant’s accurate versions are always evocative as poetry in English. Of the sixty-four translations, thirty-five appeared in journals such as Latin American Literary Review, Chicago Review, Southern Humanities Review, New Orleans Review, and in such Texas journals as The Pawn Review, Pan American Review, and The Dirty Goat, which, like Figures of Speech, was produced by Host Publications of Austin. Once again, a Latin American writer of international stature has been translated and published by Texas-based literati Host brought out a bilingual edition of Neruda’s Fifty Odes last year, translated by former U.T. professor George Schade. Founded by Elzbieta Szoka and Joe Bratcher in 1988, the imprint’s list includes contemporary Layic Silbert Brazilian plays, modern women poets from Poland, and American short story collections. Host will publish Memories of Texas Towns and Cities, a sequence of poems by none other than Dave Oliphant, later this year. His activities as poet, critic and editor/publisher of Prickly Pear Press have identified him with writing in Texas almost to the exclusion of the important contributions to the poetic exchange in this hemisphere. His dedicated work on Figures of Speech should change that perception. Robert Bonazzi has translated poetry from the Spanish of Cesar Vallejo, Octavio Paz, and Carlos Isla. Two of Oliphant’s Lihn translations appeared in Vortex: A Critical Review, published by Latitudes Press in 1989. 30 THE TEXAS OBSERVER AUGUST 25, 2000
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