The Country of Planks
By Raúl Zurita (Chile)
Translated from the Spanish by Daniel Borzutzky
Raúl Zurita’s work takes on the challenge of grief at a national scale, exploring ways that language might constitute a force of memory and of confrontation sufficient to take on not only intricate, embedded systems of oppression but also the past itself, with its inherently memory-effacing habits and capacities. This book covers the tremendous range of Zurita’s work, from the pointed fury and despair of the prison poems to the irrepressible hope of his poems written in the sky above New York to the equally irrepressible presence of WWII. Throughout them all, Zurita is focused on a kind of close observation that constitutes an act of witness that goes beyond the political to enact a deeper engagement with human history and experience. Daniel Borzutzky has kept all the verve and vigor while also capturing Zurita’s calm commitment to telling detail.