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Antipoems: How to Look Better and Feel Great

4.27  ·  Rating details ·  573 ratings  ·  50 reviews
"Real seriousness," Nicanor Parra, the antipoet of Chile, has said, rests in "the comic." And read in that light, this newest collection of his work is very serious indeed. It is an abundant offering of his signature mocking humor, subverting received conventions, and pretensions in both poetry and everyday life, public and private, ingeniously and wittily rendered into En ...more
Paperback, 144 pages
Published September 30th 2004 by New Directions (first published January 1st 1972)
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Average rating 4.27  · 
Rating details
 ·  573 ratings  ·  50 reviews


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s.penkevich
Jun 27, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Recommended to s.penkevich by: Mike Puma
for a person like me
the word is something holy
Nicanor Parra’s collection Antipoems: How to Look Better and Feel Great is a drop of pure joy into a weary heart. Parra, who has been heavily praised by fellow poets such as Roberto Bolaño and Pablo Neruda, and touted by Harold Bloom as an ‘obvious’ choice for the Nobel Prize, has a literary toolkit overflowing with wit and humor and a strong base of Shakespearean education to construct his satirical ‘antipoetry’. Antipoetry is more like the opposite side of the same coin as poet
...more
Mike Puma
Jun 27, 2012 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: they know who they are
Recommended to Mike by: Bolaño

Bolaño once called him ‘the greatest living poet in the Spanish language.’ González Eschevaría says, ‘The chief trait Parra picked up from the avant-garde was a playful humor that makes him unique in Latin American poetry, and anticipates the novels of the Boom.’


Some samples chosen for their brevity:

SUPERSONIC DEATH
zooms by at high speed
in the direction of the old folks’ home
without paying any attention to me
as if I were a red-lipped teenager
when death knows full well I’m her/>SUPERSONIC

...more
Tomas Ramanauskas
Aug 06, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: poetry
"In poetry everything is permitted. / With only this condition of course, / You have to improve the blank page.", writes Nicanor Parra whom I managed to read and somehow instantly forget.

Luckily, "Poesia sin fin", a new film by Alejandro Jodorowsky forced me to revisit the Chilean Great and oh my did I seem to miss the beauty of his anti-poems at first read.

Rewritten (yes, Parra worked hand in hand with translator Liz Werner to transform the poems from Spanish) in English for the fi
...more
Eddie Watkins
Jan 15, 2009 rated it really liked it
Sometimes a slap in the face is a breath of fresh air

Sometimes a poem is a nice uncomplicated no-strings fuck

Lee Klein
Dec 28, 2013 rated it really liked it
Almost too good-natured to rave about -- more something to appreciate and enjoy. Effervescent equations for the language brained. Reminded me of a Hrabal narrator, or a wise old professorial oracle in whose twinkling eye resides an understanding of the simple complexities and importance of play.
Troy
Jan 14, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: poetry, read-in-2014
I've been killing it with my poetry choices. Bachmann's despondent gargles; Celan's Bizarro language stabbing; Hikmet's joys to future and possibility; Notely's twisting dreamscapes; Ponge's Byzantine ruminations; and Pavese's earthy stridence.

And to think that a little over a year ago, I didn't read poetry at all. There are times when I stop and realize how changed I am, and how much I learned from my former love. We move on, change, adapt.

And Parra does nothing but move on, change, adapt. He's also fu
...more
Peter Landau
Jul 16, 2013 rated it it was amazing
This is why I read poetry: for the invention, the humor and the meaningless meaning of meaninglessness. There are drawings, too, with words, not cartoons but doodles like in the notebook's margin of a wiseass student who sits in the back of the class and mumbles color commentary only audible to those fortunate (or unfortunate) enough to sit nearby. I was one of those kids. I am no Nicanor Parra, but everyone needs a lodestar.
mwpm
Sep 09, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: poetry
An Advocate for His Own Cause


arrives at a grave marked "x"
in the Metropolitan Cemetery
with red carnations in a small bouquet
tips his hat with great solemnity
and in the absence of a vase deposits
his offering in a modest peach can
that he removes from a neighbouring grave

* * *

Seven Voluntary Labours and One Seditious Act


1.
the poet tosses stone into the lake
concentric circles multiply outward

2.
the poet hoists himself up on a chair
to wind a clock that's hanging from the wall

3.
the lyric poet gets down on his knees
in front of a blossoming cherry tree
and begins to recite the Lord's Prayer

4.
the poet dresses up as a frogman
and kerplunks into the pool in the park

5.
dangling from an umbrella
the p*
Seven
...more
Kenning  Jean-Paul García
May 09, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Essential reading from one of Chile's best writers. Serious and silly but searing all the same.
Tom
Feb 24, 2012 rated it really liked it
Roberto Bolaño said in an interview that, for him, Nicanor Parra was Chile's greatest poet. Considering a country that prizes its Nobel laureates Mistral and Neruda, not to mention such notables as Teillier and Huidobro, that's saying a lot. Parra won this year's Cervantes Prize, the most coveted literary award in the Spanish-speaking world. At 98, the physicist/poet writes little now. But this bi-lingual book of his late "antipoems" (written playfully, ignoring traditional forms and using verna ...more
Evan
Apr 19, 2019 rated it did not like it
Garbage
Count No Count
Jan 20, 2008 rated it really liked it
In my youth, when I made my rounds of the Poetry Slam circuit, I always kept a few copies of this book (special gilt edition) in my pocket to sell to the aspirants to Parnassus I met by and by.

This little commercial enterprise, in its own way, was the acorn seed from which I grew the mighty oak of my present fortune.
Richard
Oct 31, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2012
I loved this book. It's cheeky and hilarious and sets the world of "oh so serious I'm a poet who feels" right on its ear. Mr. Parra writes very short pieces with skill and grace and obviously enjoys throwing punches - he's refreshing, and it feels so good to read poetry that makes you laugh. He kind of reminds me of Jim Harrison, only a little less the curmudgeon.
Laura Davis
Dec 30, 2011 rated it really liked it
Parra is a trickster, a rule-breaker, and a charmer. These poems flirt with death, sex, fame, and poetry itself. Never taking himself too seriously, Parra incorporates mathematical elements and visual aesthetics into these wry and heartfelt lines. He's a flirt and I love lyric turn and beat.
Timb
Sep 12, 2014 rated it really liked it
very neat even after translation
Dylan
Sep 25, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: poetry, spanish
These poems are fun and funny and sometimes they hit you right in the balls!
Vincent
Mar 08, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Give Parra the Nobel, you elitist bastards.
Kevin
Apr 21, 2011 rated it liked it
He's almost like the Chilean version of Russell Edson, but maybe with a little more variation than RE.
David
Feb 05, 2018 rated it liked it
Having disciplined and modeled my as a poetry on Neruda, I thought is a big gap in my education that I had never heard of Parra until after he died. Then I thought that perhaps I could finally understand what poetry is by reading/understanding antipoetry. Didn't help. Like trying to grasp infinity by juxtaposing a study of the universe "out there" with the universe of empty spaces between quirks, quarks, etc... Am still at a loss. Understand nothing. Still, what I call poetry spills from my tong ...more
Eitan
Jan 01, 2018 rated it really liked it
These poems - and, as Parra calls them, antipoems - are wonderful: funny, nihilistic, caring, and bitter at turns, or all at once. Parra is preoccupied with the usual: politics, life, poetry, his mother, and the despair that comes from living in a dictatorship. Formally, there is something that reminds me of cummings, although he is nowhere near as experimental, or as moving, as cummings.

The edition is bilingual, and so I could follow Werner's translation, which is terrific, often tr
...more
Kevin
Jul 27, 2018 rated it liked it
Maybe I missed something on this one. Nicanor Parra seems to be a fascinating person and a fantastic poet. I really enjoyed the first half of the book. I thought that the second half was okay. I was never really excited about the translations and they, too, are part of this collection. So overall, 5 ⭐s for Parra, 4 ⭐s for Werner, and 3 ⭐s for the book. ...more
Peter
Dec 09, 2018 rated it really liked it
i enjoyed the poetry but when i tried looking back to find a single instance of one that really popped out, i couldn't find any. of particular interest is that this volume is bilingual, and the poet worked alongside the translator to make many of the unusual translation choices.
William
Oct 27, 2018 rated it it was amazing
this is by far my fav book of poetry. i read it over and over. so beautiful! mathematically precise
Evan Suttell
Sep 02, 2019 rated it liked it
The nature of antipoems makes this difficult to rate: it is somewhat of a variable collection, but the artefactos are must-read, and there are some entertaining insights in the antipoems.
David
Feb 28, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I exchange one 30-year old girl 4 two old ladies of 15

SHUT THE HELL UP! 2000 years of lies is more than enough!

The Nobel Prize for Reading should be awarded to me I am the ideal reader

Angel
Sep 06, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: poetry
This is the short note I made about this book back in 2005 when I read it:

>>This poet is both subversive and fun. It's guys like this that basically piss off right wing conservatives, to put it mildly (haha!). Seriously though, Nicanor Parra is a well known Chilean poet known for his humor and unconventional verse. So, what is antipoetry? Well, simply put it is the opposite of poetry, and yet it is not quite as easy as that. Antipoetry can be understood from the concept of antimatter. In
...more
Jeff Buddle
Mar 19, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Some of the best and most inventive poetry I've read in a long time. Don't let the simplicity of the language fool you, there's great depth to these (mostly short) poems...or antipoems... as Parra calls them. You'll find humor here but it's subtle: dry as old bones, sly as a wink behind your back. Para begins where Neruda leaves off, one critic has said. And I can see that, something of the Neruda's tone colors some of Parra's work, but where Neruda's poetry pulses with lyrical beauty, Narra's work is stark ...more
Griffin Alexander
Jul 17, 2015 rated it it was ok
A serious letdown compared to Parra's initial work of antipoems Poems and Antipoems, or even his later collection available in dual english/spanish by New Directions Emergency Poems. Read the earlier stuff—the translation here is a bore and the Spanish itself is lacking the punch (given, as a poet over 100 I'd say he's doing alright). Learn Spanish to hear it sing.
Zack
Nov 25, 2011 added it
ok this book kicks some serious ass i read it in like two days and now i'm going to go back and read it some more it is really fucking funny and very politically relevant to our times there's lots of little ideas that make very little logical sense but they are still fun to ponder...example

2+2 doesn't make 4:
once it made 4 but
today nothing is known in this regard
Dave
Feb 01, 2013 rated it really liked it
I have to admit I'm pretty ignorant about poetry. I've been trying to change that, but none of the poetry I've read lately has done much for me. This, however, I liked a lot. One of my favorites


To make a long story short
I leave all my possessions
to the Municipal Slaughterhouse
to the Special Forces Unit of the Police Department
to Lucky Dog Lotto

So now if you want you can shoot
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222 followers
He described himself as an "anti-poet," due to his distaste for standard poetic pomp and function—after recitations he would exclaim: "Me retracto de todo lo dicho" (or, "I take back everything I said").

Parra came from the artistically prolific Chilean Parra family of performers, musicians, artists, and writers. His sister, Violeta Parra, is possibly the most important folk singer the nation
...more
“TO MAKE A LONG STORY SHORT

To make a long story short
I leave all my possessions
to the Municipal Slaughterhouse
to the Special Unit of the Police Department
to Lucky Dog Lotto

So now if you want you can shoot”
5 likes
“WHAT DOES AN OLD MAN GAIN BY EXERCISING

what will he gain by talking on the phone
what will he gain by going after fame, tell me
what does he gain by looking in the mirror

Nothing
each time he just sinks deeper in the mud

It’s already three or four in the morning
why doesn’t he try to go to sleep
but no--he won’t stop doing exercise
won’t stop with his famous long-distance calls
won’t stop with Bach
with Beethoven
with Tchaikovsky
won’t stop with the long looks in the mirror
won’t stop with the ridiculous obsession about continuing to breathe

pitiful--it would be better if he turned out the light

Ridiculous old man his mother says to him
you and your father are exactly alike
he didn’t want to die either
may God grant you the strength to drive a car
may God grant you the strength to talk on the phone
may God grant you the strength to breathe
may God grant you the strength to bury your mother

You fell asleep, you ridiculous old man!
but the poor wretch does not intend to sleep
Let’s not confuse crying with sleeping”
4 likes
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