Nicanor Parra  

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Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel
Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel

Nicanor Segundo Parra Sandoval (5 September 1914 – 23 January 2018) was a Chilean poet, mathematician, and physicist. He was considered an influential poet in Chile and throughout Latin America. Parra described himself as an "anti-poet," due to his distaste for standard poetic pomp and function; after recitations he would exclaim "Me retracto de todo lo dicho" ("I take back everything I said").


Parra, the son of a schoolteacher, was born in 1914 in San Fabián de Alico, near Chillán, in Chile. He came from the artistically prolific Parra family of performers, musicians, artists, and writers. His sister, Violeta Parra, was a folk singer, as was his brother Roberto Parra Sandoval.

In 1933, he entered the Instituto Pedagógico of the University of Chile, where he qualified as a teacher of mathematics and physics in 1938, one year after the publication of his first book, Cancionero sin Nombre. After teaching in Chilean secondary schools, in 1943 he enrolled in Brown University in the United States to study physics. In 1948, he attended Oxford University to study cosmology. He returned to Chile as a professor at the Universidad de Chile in 1946. From 1952, Parra was a professor of theoretical physics in Santiago and read his poetry in England, France, Russia, Mexico, Cuba, and the United States. He published dozens of books.

Parra chose to leave behind the conventions of poetry; his poetic language renounced the refinement of most Latin American literature and adopted a more colloquial tone. His first collection, Poemas y Antipoemas (1954) is a classic of Latin American literature, one of the most influential Spanish poetry collections of the twentieth century. It is cited as an inspiration by American Beat writers such as Allen Ginsberg.

A fictionalized version of Parra appeared in Alejandro Jodorowsky's autobiographical film Endless Poetry (2016).


Parra died on 23 January 2018, at 7:00 am, in La Reina in Santiago de Chile, at the age of 103.

List of works

  • Cancionero sin nombre (Songbook without a Name), 1937.
  • Poemas y antipoemas (Poems and Antipoems), 1954; Nascimento, 1956; Cátedra, 2005, Template:ISBN
  • La cueca larga (The Long Cueca), 1958
  • Versos de salón (Parlor Verses), 1962
  • Manifiesto (Manifesto), 1963
  • Canciones rusas (Russian Songs), 1967
  • Obra gruesa (Thick Works), 1969
  • Los profesores (The Teachers), 1971
  • Artefactos (Artifacts), 1972
  • Sermones y prédicas del Cristo de Elqui (Sermons and Teachings of the Christ of Elquí), 1977
  • Nuevos sermones y prédicas del Cristo de Elqui (New Sermons and Teachings of the Christ of Elquí), 1979
  • El anti-Lázaro (The Anti-Lazarus), 1981
  • Plaza Sésamo (Sesame Street), 1981
  • Poema y antipoema de Eduardo Frei (Poem and Antipoem of Eduardo Frei), 1982
  • Cachureos, ecopoemas, guatapiques, últimas prédicas, 1983
  • Chistes parRa desorientar a la policía (Jokes to Confuse the Police), 1983
  • Coplas de Navidad (Christmas Couplets), 1983
  • Poesía política (Political Poetry), 1983
  • Hojas de Parra (Grape Leaves / Pages of Parra (Spanish pun)), 1985
  • Nicanor Parra: biografía emotiva (Nicanor Parra: Emotional Biography), Ediciones Rumbos, 1988
  • Poemas para combatir la calvicie (Poems to Combat Baldness), 1993
  • Páginas en blanco (White Pages), 2001
  • Lear, Rey & Mendigo (Lear, King & Beggar), 2004
  • Obras completas I & algo + (Complete Works I and Something More), 2006
  • Discursos de Sobremesa (After Dinner Declarations), 2006
  • Obras Completas II & algo + (Complete Works II and Something More), 2011
  • Así habló Parra en El Mercurio, entrevistas dadas al diario chileno entre 1968 y 2007 (Thus Spoke Parra in El Mercurio, Interviews Given to the Chilean Newspaper Between 1968 and 2007), 2012
  • El último apaga de luz (The Last One to Leave Turns Off the Lights), 2017

Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Nicanor Parra" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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