Challenge Accepted: Read Harder 2017

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Challenge Accepted: Read Harder 2017

Challenge #23: Read a collection of poetry in translation on a theme other than love

A new year means new year resolutions and challenges. One reading challenge that I love to do is Book Riot’s 2017 Read Harder challenge. Instead of having people focus on a specific number of books, Read Harder challenges people to read different genres or authors that they may overlook. This year, there are 24 prompts for readers, and a complete list may be found here on the Book Riot Goodreads page. This read feed will address the twenty-third challenge, to read a collection of poetry in translation on a theme other than love.

Advice from 1 Disciple of Marx to 1 Heidegger Fanatic by Mario Santiago Papasquiaro
This is not a collection of poems, but instead one long poem in the infrarealist tradition that was started by Papasquiaro and Roberto Bolaño. What reads as a stream of consciousness thoughts at a frenetic pace with a unique rhythm and cadence. If you are like me, you’ll find yourself re-reading certain sections out loud to yourself. If you are a fan of Chilean poetry, or of Roberto Bolaño specifically this is a can’t miss work.

Inferno by Dante
A classic you may have had to read in school, Dante’s Inferno is an author’s journey through hell, literally. The first part of what is known as the Divine Trilogy; we get a first-person tour of the afterlife led by nobody other than Virgil. Writing as a Catholic in Florence in the 13th century, Dante’s vision of hell is extremely graphic, with each sin getting its own level of punishment. But Dante wasn’t without humor, passion, and care for the damned souls you meet have compelling stories and make the journey to paradise that much sweeter.

Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam by Omar Khayyam
Popularized in the west with the release of Edward Fitzgerald’s translation in 1859, the Rubaiyat dates back to the 11th century. Though famous in his time as an astrologer and mathematician, Omar Khayyam’s poems are full of joy, laughter, life, and odes to wine. Contrasted with Dante’s Inferno, the Rubaiyat is spiritual but not religious. If you like to ponder about the nature of the universe and our place in it, the Rubaiyat is a great work to spend some time with.

Selected Verse by  Federico García Lorca
I will be honest and say that I did not know much about Lorca or his work before I started this list, but this is one that made me glad I was participating in this challenge. This collection gives an overview or Lorca’s work and is full of humor, empathy, and beautiful prose. There is something in here for everyone:  “Poet in New York” calls out the economic injustices of the city, and has a startling description of poverty in depression era Manhattan for those interested in political poetry. Additionally,  “Poem of the deep song” has stunning imagery of Andalusia, where Lorca is from.

Then Come Back: The Lost Neruda by Pablo Neruda
Though Pablo Neruda is perhaps best known for his love poems, he did not write about love exclusively. This collection of lost poems can be affectionately referred to as “B-sides”, but there is something here for everyone to love. Neruda talks about his beloved Chile, food, philosophy, and writes odes to the mundane in a work that may have been lost, but will make you glad they have been released.

Did you read something else for this challenge? Share it with us on twitter by using #readharderdcpl!