Nicanor Parra
Nicanor Parra Sandoval (born September 5, 1914) is a mathematician
A mathematician is a person whose primary area of study is the field of mathematics. Mathematicians are concerned with quantity, structure, space, and change....

 and poet
A poet is a person who writes poetry. A poet's work can be literal, meaning that his work is derived from a specific event, or metaphorical, meaning that his work can take on many meanings and forms. Poets have existed since antiquity, in nearly all languages, and have produced works that vary...

 born in San Fabián de Alico, Chile, who has been considered to be a popular poet in Chile
Chile ,officially the Republic of Chile , is a country in South America occupying a long, narrow coastal strip between the Andes mountains to the east and the Pacific Ocean to the west. It borders Peru to the north, Bolivia to the northeast, Argentina to the east, and the Drake Passage in the far...

 with enormous influence and popularity in Latin America, and also considered one of the most important poets of the Spanish language literature. He describes himself as an "anti-poet," due to his distaste for standard poetic pomp and function—after recitations he would exclaim Me retracto de todo lo dicho, or, "I take back everything I said".
Trying to get away from the conventions of poetry, Parra's poetic language renounces the refinement of most Latin American literature
Latin American literature
Latin American literature consists of the oral and written literature of Latin America in several languages, particularly in Spanish, Portuguese, and indigenous languages of the Americas. It rose to particular prominence globally during the second half of the 20th century, largely due to the...

 and adopts a more colloquial tone. His first collection, Poemas y Antipoemas (1954) is a classic of Latin American literature, one of the most influential Spanish poetry collections of the twentieth century, and is cited as an inspiration by American Beat writers such as Allen Ginsberg
Allen Ginsberg
Irwin Allen Ginsberg was an American poet and one of the leading figures of the Beat Generation in the 1950s. He vigorously opposed militarism, materialism and sexual repression...

. Parra has been nominated several times for the Nobel Prize in Literature
Nobel Prize in Literature
Since 1901, the Nobel Prize in Literature has been awarded annually to an author from any country who has, in the words from the will of Alfred Nobel, produced "in the field of literature the most outstanding work in an ideal direction"...


Parra comes from the artistically prolific Chilean Parra family
Parra family
The Parra family is a Chilean family known for its many artists. Members of the Parra family are noted contributors to Chilean culture with almost every member being a distinguished national artist. The family is not related to the Parra brothers, members of the Chilean rock fusion group Los...

 of performers, musicians, artists, and writers. His sister, Violeta Parra
Violeta Parra
Violeta del Carmen Parra Sandoval was a notable Chilean composer, songwriter, folklorist, ethnomusicologist and visual artist...

, is possibly the most important folk singer the nation has produced.

Nicanor Parra was born in 1914 near Chillán
Chillán is a city in the Biobío Region of Chile located about south of the country's capital, Santiago, near the geographical center of the country. It is the capital of Ñuble Province and, with a population of approximately 170,000 people , the most populated urban center of this province...

, a city in southern Chile, the son of a schoolteacher. In 1933, he entered the Instituto Pedagógico
Teacher education
Teacher education refers to the policies and procedures designed to equip prospective teachers with the knowledge, attitudes, behaviors and skills they require to perform their tasks effectively in the classroom, school and wider community....

 of the University of Chile
Universidad de Chile (university)
The University of Chile is the largest and oldest institution of higher education in Chile and one of the oldest in the Americas. Founded in 1842 as the replacement and continuation of the former colonial Royal University of San Felipe , the university is often called Casa de Bello in honor of...

, and qualified as a teacher of mathematics and physics in 1938, one year after his first book appeared: Cancionero sin Nombre. After teaching in Chilean secondary schools, he went in 1943 to Brown University
Brown University
Brown University is a private, Ivy League university located in Providence, Rhode Island, United States. Founded in 1764 prior to American independence from the British Empire as the College in the English Colony of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations early in the reign of King George III ,...

 in the U.S. to continue his studies in physics. and then he went in 1948 to Oxford
The city of Oxford is the county town of Oxfordshire, England. The city, made prominent by its medieval university, has a population of just under 165,000, with 153,900 living within the district boundary. It lies about 50 miles north-west of London. The rivers Cherwell and Thames run through...

 in England to study cosmology. He returned to Chile as professor at the University in 1946. Since 1952, Parra has been professor of theoretical physics
Theoretical physics
Theoretical physics is a branch of physics which employs mathematical models and abstractions of physics to rationalize, explain and predict natural phenomena...

 in Santiago
Santiago, Chile
Santiago , also known as Santiago de Chile, is the capital and largest city of Chile, and the center of its largest conurbation . It is located in the country's central valley, at an elevation of above mean sea level...

 and has read his poetry in England, France, Russia, Mexico, Cuba, and the United States. He has published several books.

On December 1, 2011, Parra won the Cervantes Prize from Spain's Ministry of Culture, widely considered the most important literary prize in the Spanish-speaking world.

List of works

  • Cancionero sin nombre, 1937.
  • Poemas y antipoemas, 1954, Poems & Antipoems, Jonathan Cape, c. 1968.
  • La cueca larga, 1958.
  • Versos de salón, 1962.
  • Manifiesto, 1963.
  • Canciones rusas, 1967.
  • Obra gruesa, 1969.
  • Los profesores, 1971.
  • Artefactos, 1972.
  • Sermones y prédicas del Cristo de Elqui, 1977.
  • Nuevos sermones y prédicas del Cristo de Elqui, 1979.
  • El anti-Lázaro, 1981.
  • Plaza Sésamo, 1981.
  • Poema y antipoema de Eduardo Frei, 1982.
  • Cachureos, ecopoemas, guatapiques, últimas prédicas, 1983.
  • Chistes para desorientar a la policía, 1983.
  • Coplas de Navidad, 1983.
  • Poesía política, 1983.
  • Hojas de Parra, 1985.
  • Poemas para combatir la calvicie, 1993.
  • Páginas en blanco, 2001.
  • Lear Rey & Mendigo, 2004.
  • Obras completas I & algo +, 2006.
  • Discursos de Sobremesa, 2006, transl. Dave Oliphant, After Dinner Declarations, Host Publications, Inc., 2009.

English translations
  • Nicanor Parra: Poems and Antipoems, ed. David Unger (New Directions), 1985.

External links

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