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AFTERINORD I BY DAVE OLIPHANT For Texas and Chile, an Axis of Anti-Poetry Diana Melendez, Karen Villarreal, and Nicanor Parra photo by Alvaro Corral IFII orty-one years ago, in July 1965, I made my first trip to Chile, as part of an exchange pro gram suggested by Vice President Richard Nixon after his car was stoned in Venezuela in 1958. This State Department-sponsored program matched universities in South America with U.S. universities to create good will and better mutual understanding. But after a couple of years, only the exchange between the University of Chile and the University of Texas at Austin continued, lasting from 1959 to 1968. Before leaving on what would prove a life-changing adventure, I flew with our group of 15 students to Washington, D.C., to be briefed on political issues, perhaps the hottest among them being the recent U.S. invasion of the Dominican Republic. Most of our group was made up of “student leaders,” like Kaye Northcott, editor of The Daily Texan [later editor of the Observed, and Ricardo Romo, the University of Texas track star who is now President of UT-San Antonio. In previous years, Carole “Grandma” Keeton Strayhorn and Lloyd Doggett had participated in this same exchange program. I had been the editor of Riata, the UT student literary magazine, and was probably chosen partly because a few years earlier Oscar Hahn, now considered one of Chile’s leading poets, had come to Texas in the program. My role was basically to demonstrate that Texans, too, were “into” poetry, including the poetry of Chile. Little did I suspect that four decades later I would not only still be “into” Chilean poetry, but that I would be taking a group of UT students to study Chile’s grand tradition of world-class poets in situ. But thanks to the threeyear-old “Maym ester” program, in which students from UT-Austin travel abroad with a UT professor, I was able to help another group of Texas students come to know this long, thin land, to read its SEPTEMBER 22, 2006 THE TEXAS OBSERVER 29