Poet of the People

Today, this day was a brimming cup,
Today, this day was the immense wave,
Today, it was all the earth.

–Pablo Neruda

A celebration is going on in many cities around the world for the late Chilean poet Pablo Neruda, who would have turned 100 on July 12. The poet, known not only for his writing but also for his political activism, earned the Nobel Prize in 1971.

Tonight I went to the Latino Cultural Center for their opening ceremony to what will be a year of performances, readings, and films in honor of Neruda.

At tonight’s event they had music, slide shows and readings of Neruda’s poems by some of the local poets. Some of the poems read included Bella and Dialogo Amoroso. They were read in Spanish while the English translation flash up on a screen.

As if the Neruda’s fiery poetry filled with lush images weren’t enough, sometimes the readings were also accompanied by the music of a flute or guitar. If you closed your eyes you could imagine yourself being the Lovely One he talked about.

Later in the program, I clapped my hands to the rhythm of Orlando Salinas’ song, Padre, Padre, which was inspired by Neruda’s life and poetry. His message carried on Neruda’s call for justice and dignity to all mankind.

Celebrate love and humanity by reading Pablo Neruda. I’ll be reading The Captain’s Verses, one of my favorites, one more time.