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Pablo Neruda Poetfans: Alberto Meza and his students

Year

2007
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My passion for Pablo Neruda's poetry was triggered by my first encounter with the poet. My father had gone to buy some hard-to-find detective stories in Buenos Aires. Neruda, an avid collector and voracious reader of the genre, had come to retrieve the books at the same time. I was surprised to hear Neruda's voice reading some poetry... my own! My father had asked the bard to read my very clumsy poem. So, ever since, I have a deep affection not only for Neruda's poetry but also for his deep sense of humanity.

Woodcut by A. Meza
Woodcut by R. Reed

I teach printmaking at Miami-Dade College, and I have made a commitment to bring Neruda's imagery in the classroom. In fact, my students have worked on Veinte poemas de amor y una cancion desesperada (Twenty Love Poems and a Song of Despair) in woodcuts and etchings. In addition, they have worked on a figurehead (Neruda's Isla Negra house had several old figureheads throughout the living space) that has been introduced as The Muse giving impulse to a Jackson Pollock-like action painting on an enormous rolling canvas. The canvas has the lines from "The Song of Despair":

You swallowed everything, like distance.
Like the sea, like time. In you everything sank!

The students slowly drip and splash different shades of paints until covering the whole line, as if submerged by a sea of color.

Alberto Meza
Miami Dade College
Miami, Florida


Hear selections from an interview with this Poetfan.