Antonio Cisneros

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colonialism, politics
Written and spoken word (general)
America, South
created on:
April 28, 2005
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The Peruvian poet and novelist Antonio Cisneros was born in Lima in 1942 where from 1960 to 1964 he studied literature at the Catholic University. Later he took a PhD at the San Marcos University. He already began to publish his poems with much success in his first few years as a student.
His volume of poems ´Destierro´ came out in 1961 and is now regarded as among the classics of Latin-American lyric poetry. Early on he was influenced by Anglo-American beat-literature and inspired by its ironic gestures and its "everyday sound". Later he turned more noticeably to political issues in order to counteract the increasing political indifference in Latin-American society. The volume entitled ´Comentarios reales de Antonio Cisneros´ was aimed at the distortion of history by officials in his own country. The title, rich in associations, refers to the work of the first Castilian-writing Peruvian poet, Garcilaso de La Vega, also called ´El Inca´, who attempted in his ´Comentarios reales´ to bring home to the Spanish conquerors the true history of his homeland.

Cisneros had his greatest success to date in 1968 with the publication of ´Canto cere-monial contra un oso hormiguero´ for which he was honoured in Havana with the prize of the Casa de las Américas. This collection, too, is influenced by his critical involvement with the social problems of his time. His elaborated play on language and intertextual references continually questions the artificial distinction between ´pure´ and ´social´ poetry.

Affected by the first political setbacks of socialism in Latin America and a crisis in his own life, he wrote in 1972, while in Nizza, ´Como higuera en un campo de golf´ in which he sets personal pain as the starting point for a critical examination of his own time. "Poetry cannot be subjected to any purpose. It is rather a kind of recognition, but recognition of oneself, and it is that which you communicate to others, together with the social and political unrest of your time."

Since the end of the sixties Antonio Cisneros has held countless temporary teaching posts at international universities, among them Southampton, Nizza, Budapest and Virginia. In addition, grants have made possible longer stays in Paris, London and Berlin. Experiences gained during these stays have influenced this author’s later work who has since published twenty collections of lyric poems and two prose works, translated into five languages. In 2000 Cisneros was awarded the international Gabriela Mistral Prize in Mexico for his life’s work. He is now living and working in Lima where, since 1996, he has been in charge of the daily radio programme ´La Crónica del oso hormiguero´.
Author: International Festival of Literature Berlin (ilb)


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Fondo De Cultura Enconimica Us

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Red Dust: New York

Helicopters in the Kingdom of Peru

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Rivelin: Frizinghall, Bradford

Como higuera en un campo de golf

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INC: Lima

Canto ceremonial contra un oso hormiguero

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Casa de lasAméricas: La Habana


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La Rama Florida: Lima, 1961


International Festival of Literature Berlin