September 17, 2013


Poet, self-proclaimed father of the short-lived avant-garde literary movement known as creacionismo (creationism) that proclaimed that the poet´s duty was to create his own imaginary world rather than to describe the world of nature.

Better remembered today for his literary manifestoes and theories than for his own creationist poetry, Huidobro was a prominent figure in the post-World War I literary vanguard in Paris and Madrid as well as at home in Chile and he did much to introduce his countrymen to contemporary European, especially French, innovations in poetic form and imagery.

In 1916 after publishing several collections of poetry in Chile and achieving recognition and notoriety for such literary manifestoes as Non servian (1914, I Will Not Serve) in which he rejected the entire poetic past, Huidobro went to Paris. There he collaborated with the avant-garde French poets Guillaume Apollinaire and Pierre Réverdy on the influential literary review Nord-Sud. During this period creationism was invented whether by him or Réverdy is moot; certainly Huidobro was its most vociferous exponent. In Poemas árticos (1921) and Saisons choisies (1921, Chosen Seasons), the latter in French, he exemplified his creationist theories with incongruous juxtapositions of striking images and random, seemingly irrational, sequences of words and letters of the alphabet.

Huidobro went to Madrid in 1918 where he was enthusiastically received in avant-garde literary circles and where in 1921 he was one of the founders of ultraísmo (ultraism), the Spanish offshoot of creationism. Travelling frequently between Europe and Chile he was largely responsible for creating the climate of literary experimentation based on French models that prevailed in post-World War I Chile. He accomplished this as much through his well-publicized exploits (such as his semiserious candidacy for the presidency of Chile) as through his frequent magazine articles and poetry.

Continuing to write in the creationist idiom in such novels as Sátiro o el poder de las palabras (1939, Satire or the Power of Words), Huidobro also remained a prolific poet in that style long after the movement itself had collapsed. Although most critics today find that Huidobro´s own poems lack lasting literary value, they acknowledge his importance and influence as a literary theorist and as an impetus to the development of new directions in Spanish-American poetry.

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