The Night

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Princeton University Press, Jan 1, 2007 - Poetry - 139 pages
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Jaime Saenz is arguably the greatest Bolivian writer of the twentieth century. His poetry is apocalyptic, transcendent, hallucinatory, brilliant--and, until recently, available only in Spanish. Forrest Gander and Kent Johnson's translations of Saenz's work have garnered much-deserved attention and acclaim. Here for the first time in English they give us his masterpiece, The Night, Saenz's most famous poem and the last he wrote before his death in 1986.

An unusual man, Saenz lived his whole life in La Paz, Bolivia, seldom venturing far from the city and its indigenous culture that feature so prominently in his writings. He sought God in unlikely places: slum taverns, alcoholic excess, the street. Saenz was nocturnal. He once stole a leg from a cadaver and hid it under his bed. On his wedding night he brought home a panther.

In this epic poem, Saenz explores the singular themes that possessed him: alcoholism, death, nightmares, identity, otherness, and his love for La Paz. The poem's four movements culminate in some of the most profoundly mystical, beautiful, and disturbing passages of modern Latin American poetry. They are presented here in this faithful and inspired English translation of the Spanish original.

Complete with an introduction by the translators that paints a vivid picture of the poet's life, and an afterword by Luis H. Antezana, a notable Bolivian literary critic and close friend of Saenz, this bilingual edition is the essential introduction to one of the most visionary and enigmatic poets of the Hispanic world.

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About the author (2007)

Kent Johnson is the translator of "A Nation of Poets: Writings from the Poetry Workshops of Nicaragua "(1985) and editor of "Beneath a Single Moon: Buddhism in Contemporary American Poetry "(1990) and "Third Wave: The New Russian Poetry "(1993). Forrest Gander is Professor of English Literature and Director of the Graduate Program in Literary Arts at Brown University. His books include "Torn Awake "(2001) and "Science & Steepleflower "(1998). He is the editor of "Mouth to Mouth: Poems by Twelve Contemporary Mexican Women "(1993) and translator of "No Shelter: Selected Poems of Pura Lopez Colome "(2002).

Forrest Gander grew up in Virginia and has degrees in geology and English literature. His recent books include the novel As a Friend andthe translation Firefly Under the Tongue: Selected Poems of Coral Bracho (PEN Translation Prize Finalist), both from New Directions. A United States Artists Rockefeller Fellow, Gander is recipient of fellowships from the NEA, the Guggenheim, Howard, and Whiting foundations. He is the Adele Kellenberg Seaver Professor of Literary Arts and Comparative Literature at Brown University.

Kent Johnson grew up in Uruguay and worked during the 1980s as a literacy teacher in rural regions of Nicaragua during the Sandinista Revolution. He is author, editor, or translator of twenty-some books and chapbooks, including three collections of poetry recently published abroad in translation. Translated into a dozen languages and appearing in more than twenty countries, his work has been selected for awards from Pushcart, the Illinois Arts Council, PEN, and The National Endowment for the Arts. In 2004, he was named State Teacher of the Year by the Illinois Community College Board. He lives in Freeport, Illinois.

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