Country of Planks /
El País de Tablas

by Raúl Zurita

Translated by Daniel Borzutzky

Poetry. Bilingual Edition. Latino/Latina Studies.
ISBN 9780989804851
15 April 2015

“The great examples of the investigation, shaping, and liberation of affect, not least militancy, continue to lie elsewhere, in Rimbaud, Vallejo, Césaire, and more recently Raúl Zurita, among numerous others.”

– Cal Bedient

“This is a song of the massacred, the destroyed and disappeared during Chilean President Pinochet’s era of tyranny – how can this be if the dismembered, burned and slashed cannot speak? Zurita pulls it out of his body, his day by day, his furnace by furnace mouth, his barracks by barracks and bombs by bombs rebel notary ledger. It is a collection of planks, that is, jagged samples of bone shards, splinters of barrack and tangles of wire, low tremolos of shrieks lingering, blood streams, body-sticks, warehouse and camp whispered love journals before the crematorium and time-space shafts intersecting the death ship Chile-Nagasaki-Auschwitz still in the liminoid edge of our present storms. With the eye and timbre of Rodnoti, Neruda, Bombal and Wiesel, Zurita, through Borzutzky’s masterful translation, hurls himself at our comfort culture barricades. He wants “awakening” –– in spite of the multiple chambers of horrors suffered by innocent peoples, mountains and seas – “There were millions of planets being born there.” And Zurita is one – and this book is thousands. Plank by plank, line by line, this is an inspiring, major work in translation in our post 9-11 era of always-war and terror. Heal with it.”

– Juan Felipe Herrera, US Poet Laureate

“Raúl Zurita is like Jeremiah, a weeping biblical prophet reminding his people of the sins of omission and the embarrassments of complacency. Chile is a minuscule country at the end of the world with more poets per capita than anywhere else. Zurita is a giant among them, like Mistral, Neruda, and Parra. His voice maps the agony lived under tyranny and its aftermath and Daniel Borzutzky’s translations capture it with admirable precision.”

– Ilan Stavans, editor of The FSG Book of Twentieth-Century Latin American Poetry


Raúl Zurita’s books of poems include, among others: Purgatorio (1979), Anteparaíso (1982), El paraíso está vacío (1984), Canto a su amor desaparecido (1985), La vida nueva (1994), Poemas militantes (2000); INRI (2003), Los paises muertos (2006) Las cicudades de agua (2007), In Memoriam (2007), Cuadernos de Guerra (2009), Sueños para Kurosawa (2010), and Zurita (2011). Translations to English include Purgatory, Anteparadise, INRI, Song For His Disappeared Love, Dreams for Kurosawa, and Militant Poems. His numerous awards include the National Literature Prize of Chile and the Pablo Neruda Prize. He lives in Santiago, Chile, where he is a professor of literature at Universidad Diego Portales.


Daniel Borzutzky’s recent books and chapbooks include The Performance of Becoming Human (2016); In the Murmurs of the Rotten Carcass Economy (2015); Bedtime Stories for the End of the World!(2014); Data Bodies (2013) and The Book of Interfering Bodies (2011). Poetry translations include Raúl Zurita’s Song for His Disappeared Love (2010), and Jaime Luis Huenun’s Port Trakl (2008). His work has been supported by the PEN American Center, the National Endowment of the Arts, and the Illinois Arts Council.