La ciudad, el poeta y su familia melancólica (Poesía Chilena de los últimos 50 años)

Alvaro Leiva, Florida International University


This dissertation explored the relationship among poets, cities, and the construction of nation-ness. It was an interpretive reading of Chilean poetry and Chilean-ness as a way of inventing the nation from its very origins, starting with the colonial epic poem La Araucana and the founding of Santiago, its capital city. In this dissertation, poetry not only dealt with cities or "city poets" but also with the very conception, drafting, and systematic invention of cities as a "dream of order". The construct of a "community" of Chileans has maintained family ties with "Melancholy" in the collective imagination. This structure of melancholy reinforced the idea of "an order and a community" passed along by poets through generations. This dissertation also explored the moment when this melancholic family was fractured, divided, and Santiago was darkened by the events of September 11, 1973 and the rise of dictatorship, brutality, and censorship. The methodology employed to examine different aspects of the construction of the city-nation included theoretical approaches such as Benedict Anderson's idea of nations as "imagined communities," Ángel Rama's analysis of Latin American urban rationality in his book The Lettered City , and the idea of the poet as an urban seer or visionary, the "flâneur" studied by Walter Benjamin in Charles Baudelaire's poetry. A central finding was that this "imagined community" have been severely transformed since 1950. In Chilean poetry, two works served as major referents: Pablo Neruda's Canto General, a totalizing idea of collective identity carved from the stones of the ruins of Machu Picchu, and Nicanor Parra's Poemas y Antipoemas (1954), which begun to illustrate the slow "decomposition" of the "The Lettered City." Among such conflicting images of (post-)modernity, poet Enrique Lihn became the central counter-figure who put an end to a long tradition of producing canonical nation-building cultural artifacts. His book El paseo Ahumada (1983) impacted the new generations of Chilean poets. The conclusion brought together the five-century history and diverse poetic experiences of the traditional Lettered City with the latest currents of marginalized urban poetry (1987-2003), the so-called "barbarians," flâneurs who were (re)inventing Chilean-ness in the globalized, and anti-Utopian city of "Sanhattan."

Subject Area

Romance literature

Recommended Citation

Leiva, Alvaro, "La ciudad, el poeta y su familia melancólica (Poesía Chilena de los últimos 50 años)" (2005). ProQuest ETD Collection for FIU. AAI3190954.