On June 30, 1939 the great Mexican poet Jose Emilio Pacheco Berny was born. Pacheco has often been praised as one of the most significant contemporary poets to hail from Latin America. He remains one of the most widely read Mexican writers even after his death from a heart attack in 2014.
The majority of Pacheco’s work was based on poetry that he used to craft essays and political narratives. In his 50 year writing career his volumes of poetry including, Elements of the Night and Like the Rain, are the most revered, most of which use Mexico City as the back drop.
Pacheco has been honored for his work including receiving the Cervantes Prize for Literature in 2009. He produced 30 works that include novels and short stories. He is also recognized as a prolific translator of some of the world’s most revered poetry – providing translation from English to Spanish. To his credit he translated 20 works that include classics by TS Eliot, Oscar Wilde and Samuel Beckett.
His poem “Alta Traición” (High Treason) is considered by many as one of the most representative poems of the conflicts Mexico and Mexicans live with:
I do not love my
country. Its abstract lustre
is beyond my grasp.
But (although it sounds bad) I would give my life
for ten places in it, for certain people,
seaports, pinewoods, fortresses,
a run-down city, gray, grotesque,
various figures from its history
(and three or four rivers).
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