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Excerpt The book series The Ilan Stavans Library of Latino Civilization, the first in its kind, is devoted to exploring all the facets of Hispanic civilization in the United States, with its ramifications in the Americas, the Caribbean Basin, and the Iberian Peninsula. Read preview Overview. Bilingual Review, Vol.

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By Fishman, Joshua A. Stavans asserts that "since the Spanish-American War of , Latin America has maintained a love-hate relationship with the United States. It is seen as an intrusive force as well as a fountain of inspiration. Nevertheless, the Spanish-American War did involve the early Modernist poets in ways that, perhaps, previous American interventions did not.

Tastes aside, it is the past century of Latin American poetry that seems to far outweigh its predecessors in terms of innovation.

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As the late Uruguayan critic Angel Rama pointed out, the twentieth century was the first time Latin American writers wrote full-time, aside from some teaching or freelance journalism, in a way that their progenitors -- mostly presidents, officials, even priests -- did not. Up through the later half of the twentieth century, poetry in Latin America enjoyed a wide audience, and was taught, learned and valued well after it fought for its existence in other parts of the post-industrial world. In fact, the "boom" novelists, who made their continent's literature famous, have cited their readings of the early modernist poets in Latin America as inspiration for their work.

Latin American literature could even be considered exceptional in that it found independence, or least some, in abstraction.

Bookslut | The Poetic Taste of Ilan Stavans

Carlos Drummond de Andrade, Pablo Neruda, Octavio Paz, Jorge Luis Borges, called " los cuatro grandes " by Stavans, were great experimenters, much more so than this collection would lead a reader to believe. However, these are not the opinions of the editor. If the forward makes little sense, at least there is the poetry.

Once again, the poets chosen by our editor, with a few exceptions, lean toward the conventional and the political. The zany jester Nicanor Parra's more acerbic, political poems are chosen, like "Litany of the Little Bourgeois.

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But where do we draw the borderline? Some of collection's best poems seem to make it into the anthology almost in spite of Stavans's populist vision of Latin America. He opines "while the Hispanic world in the sixties underwent a revolution of social conventions, it never came close to its north-of-the-border Beatnik equivalent. As early as the twenties, Argentine poet Oliverio Girondo whose exclusion from this collection I think is an oversight writes explicitly of the smell of sex and breasts of passersby.

The twentieth century, for Latin America, was another period of upheaval, injustice, and imperialism; nevertheless, such periods do not necessarily produce overtly political poetry. Vanguardist Vincente Huidobro ran for president in Chile, and yet his poems are far from what we might call political. If you become interested in Achy Obejas, as I did, the reader will have to use Google, as translators are not afforded bios.