This communist Nobel laureate poet and the writer of Viginti Poemata Amatoria Cantumque Desperationis, is entrenched in Chilean culture and in the imagination of many Scots intellectuals: Pablo Neruda is one of the 20th century's greatest poets in any language. Sara Wheeler the writer of "Travels in a thin country" will disagree but I know that the Colombian writer, Gabriel Garcia Marquez, will agree. It will be an impossible task for any Chilean, involved in cultural activities related to his/her country, to leave out the formidable poet. "Canto General" is a fearsome poetry book depicting the history of America. "Canto en General" is a witty poetry book written by the "Poeta Popular" El canela who depict in verses the history of General Pinochet. The year 2004 was the centenary of his birth and to mark the occasion I organized several commemorative events in Edinburgh. The Scottish Poetry Library also organised one event with the Scot poet Alastair Reid. I was invited to take part in this event. I also wrote a song for Neruda and an extensive poem outlining Neruda's life, which are listed below. The Edinburgh Hispanic Festival of 2004 was another occasion for me to take the poet on stage.
Below the song I wrote for our poet.
Below my long poem I wrote in 2004. It traces the life of the poet.
The following are some visual material I used in June 2004 for the centenary celebrations in Edinburgh at the Scottish Poetry Library. I was the organiser of this intimate and successful event. We have an audience of about 40 people, the capacity of the Scottish Poetry Library.
Programme with the names of the participants which includes the poets John. Manson, John Law, John. Gillies, Jiim C. Wilson, Rab Wilson, the composer Edward McGuire and Philip O'Brien (First president of the Chilean Solidarity Campaign in Scotland in 1974) and the musicologists Jan Fairley.
Other activities organised by me and related to the centenary included: The Hispanic Festival 2004 and the Edinburgh Spanish Circle.
Scottish connections with the poet
The Scottish poet John Law presented us, in the Scots tongue, some extracts of Neruda's poem Alturas de Macchu Picchu. He worked very hard to achieve this unique feat. Here we have a Scottish poet translating and publishing into the Scott tongue a long poem taking from Neruda's great work 'Canto General' published in Mexico in 1950.
Councillor and passionate campaigner for the Scots language
Born: 25 October, 1951, in Dumfermline.
Died: 13 February, 2010 in Blackford, aged 58.
The poet Alastair Reid (A Heart supporter) was a friend of Pablo Neruda and become one of the best translators of his work into English (a difficult task). John Manson is also a fine poet and he too has done translations of Neruda's work. I mentioned John Law working hard translating Alturas de Macchu Picchu into Scots. The composer William Sweeney set music to EL Pueblo a work by the Chilean poet.
During the 1997 Edinburgh's Book Festival events around the figure of Pablo Neruda were organized: Alastair Reid was a guest speaker, I was a singer guest, the Chilean Ambassador to Britain Mr Artazar gave a talk, the academic and friend of Neruda Robert Pring-Mill gave a talk, the Chilean photographer Luis Poirot presented his photographic book "Pablo Neruda Absence and Presence".