Y fue a esa edad… Llegó la poesía
a buscarme. No sé, no sé de dónde
salió, de invierno o río.
Pablo Neruda, ‘La poesía’
From Shakespeare to Dr Seuss, Wordsworth to Walt Whitman, poetry has always been a vehicle for expressing a wide range of issues, emotions and concerns. In Latin America, examples of poetry can be found as far back as the 14th century, when Aztec poets wrote in the Nahuatl language about their relationship with nature, wildlife and the seasons. More recently, during the 20th century, Latin American poets have attracted the world’s attention with their distinctive approach to articulating personal views on love, desire, politics and conflict. Over the last seventy years, many of the region’s poets – namely Gabriela Mistral (Chile), Miguel Ángel Asturias (Guatemala), Pablo Neruda (Chile) and Octavio Paz (Mexico) – have won the Nobel Prize for Literature, attesting to the vibrant energy and considerable legacy of Latin America’s poetic tradition.
In this topic, we will consider a number of examples from Latin American poets who have been active over the course of the last century. First, we will look at the Nobel Prize-winning poet, Pablo Neruda, and consider one of his most famous love poems, entitled ‘Poema XX’ (1924). Secondly, the focus will be placed on contemporary Twitter micropoetry (2015), written by the Mexican author Mauricio Montiel Figueiras, who has turned to social media to express his views on various social and political concerns. By asking what similarities and distinctions can be drawn between these two examples, we will come to understand what makes poetry – whether on a page, a webpage, or anywhere in between – such a powerful and evocative vehicle for expressing emotion.