Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Death is a requirement of membership

For a guy five years dead, he's sure getting a lot of press. Funny how that works.
...Then I started corresponding with Enrique Lihn. Naturally, I was the one who initiated the correspondence. I didn’t have to wait long for his reply. A long, crotchety letter, as we might say in Chile: gloomy and irritable. In my reply I told him about my life, my house in the country, on one of the hills outside Gerona, the medieval city in front of it, the countryside or the void behind. I also told him about my dog, Laika, and said that in my opinion Chilean literature, with one or two exceptions, was shit. It was evident from his next letter that we were already friends. What followed was what typically happens when a famous poet befriends an unknown. He read my poems and included some of them in a kind of reading he organized to present the work of the younger generation at a Chilean-North American institute. In his letter he identified a group of hopefuls destined, so he thought, to be the six tigers of Chilean poetry in the year 2000. The six tigers were Bertoni, Maquieira, Gonzalo Muñoz, Martínez, Rodrigo Lira, and myself. I think. Maybe there were seven tigers. But I think there were only six. It would have been hard for the six of us to be anything much in 2000, because by then Rodrigo Lira, the best of the lot, had killed himself, and what was left of him had either been rotting for years in some cemetery or was ash, blowing around the streets and mingling with the filth of Santiago. Cats would have been more appropriate than tigers...

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