Dallas-Fort Worth celebrates Pablo Neruda's  100th birthday.
Dallas-Fort Worth celebrates Pablo Neruda's 100th birthday.

Nobel Man

May these last few weeks of summer be as hot, hot, hot as your new boyfriend, that Renaissance man you've always craved but never, until now, found. He's the one for you, all right. He cooks, cleans, writes poetry, paints pictures, gardens, sews, bends rebar in his bare hands and climbs mountains. And yet, he isn't too burly to enjoy a cuddle before and after sex, and he's almost too eager to do your toenails on Sunday night.

Still, he's no Pablo Neruda. Poet, lover, politician, historian, political fugitive and, ultimately, a Nobel Laureate, Neruda turned every life experience into a prolific literary career that earned him respect in his native Chile and around the world. The global village is celebrating his work and legacy throughout 2004, the centennial of his birth. DFW International in Dallas is playing a large part in the celebration of the life of the 1971 Nobel Prize in Literature winner, coordinating August and September events presented by North Texas' Southeast Asian, Bolivian, Colombian, Peruvian and Chilean communities, as well as the Dallas Peace Center, The Mexico Institute, The Dallas Institute of Humanities, Teatro Dallas and the Fort Worth and Dallas Public libraries.

"The Latino Cultural Center, with 50 other cultural institutions and global groups, is our partner in a series of 40 programs this year featuring music, poetry and prose, dance, film and multimedia," says Anne Marie Weiss-Armush of DFW International. Venues include the Dallas Museum of Art, the Majestic Theater, the Crow Museum of Asian Art, FunAsia and the Magnolia Theatre. "Individual events are coordinated by such diverse groups as Voces y Danzas de Chile, Visión Andina, the Salvadoran Association of the Metroplex, the Filipino Folk Arts Theater Inc., the Visual Arts Coalition and the Centro Argentino DFW," she says.


For the year-long schedule of film festivals, dance, spoken word, theater and educational presentations honoring Pablo Neruda, see DFW International's Web site at www.dfwinternational.org/neruda.

How can so many arts, educational and cultural institutions lend so much time and energy--never mind with such a unified commitment--to the work of one individual? If you browse Neruda's poetry books and read any biographical information, you'll find out. Karl Ragnar Gierow, of the Swedish Academy, said at the Nobel presentation in 1971, "To sum up Neruda is like catching a condor with a butterfly net. Neruda, in a nutshell, is an unreasonable proposition: The kernel bursts the shell." Neruda, born Neftalí Ricardo Reyes Basoalto on July 12, 1904, was a published poet at age 13. The first love poems of his youth--Twenty Poems of Love and One Ode of Desperation--were critically recognized. He wrote Canto General as a historical commentary on the Spanish Civil War.

On July 29, the East Berry Street Branch of the Fort Worth Public Library, 4300 E. Berry St., will present Siempre Neruda, a free evening of bilingual poetry readings at 7 p.m. Neruda wrote primarily in Spanish, but his love sonnets, odes to ordinary life and commentary on politics and statesmanship and on the state of the world translate easily and maintain their impact in English. Call 817-536-1945 for information on the Fort Worth event.

Dallas educator Dr. Esther Ginocchio will present The Life and Works of Pablo Neruda on August 1 at the Dallas Central Library, 1515 Young St., at 2 p.m. The lecture is free, sponsored by the Dallas Public Library and REFORMA Rio Trinidad Librarians. Get more info at 214-670-1400 or 214-662-3158.

These easy evenings will be followed shortly by larger, but still mostly free, and more elaborate events in August and September. "This tribute to Pablo Neruda involves literally hundreds of events and activities," Weiss-Armush says. DFW International's Web site will provide schedules, updates and cultural commentary updated regularly. Spend the rest of the summer reveling in your new dude, but keep a couple of nights and weekends open to get acquainted with Pablo Neruda.


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