Memoria de pájaro by Pedro Chadicadi

Memoria de pájaro. Pedro Chadicadi. Valdivia: Sur Umbral Ediciones. 2019.

From the always stimulating body of Chilean poetry, enriched by its varied authors and works from diverse generations, Pedro Chadicadi, a very young author, has come to the fore recently in national poetry with a very promising first work that reveals not only a fervent poetic manifesto but also, and more importantly, a process or search for writing in its treatment of theme and language. Thus, both theme and language are unique and innovative material despite a memory that doesn’t reside in what is merely birdlike.

This Memoria de pájaro [Bird memory] (a title that is curious in itself) brings together poems that have already received distinction from juries and contests (“The Gabriela Mistral Literary from the Illustrious Municipality of Santiago”) and that reunited under one cover, allow the poet’s concerns to shine. But honors and recognition aside, what matters certainly is the poetry in its simplicity and vision, of a “memory” that is not at all ordinary–perhaps it is birdlike–that recreates the fugacity of time or of relived myth.

The diverse registers in this attractive poetry, at times direct, brief and almost epigrammatic, and other times with evident formal alterations or bordering on experimental or verbal exercises that become song, what matters in its totality is that is results in the poetic project that Chadicadi proposes in his resolute writing: nature, (in its most pristine and generative state) as an approach to that which nourishes, to every day life and to the memory of a bird not winged, not volatile, nor flighty but disseminated by the wind and carried by the air that passes and remains. Poetry, moreover, in the confines of a geography or natural territory, wild in the natural elements that constitute it: earth, sea, rocks, woods, rain. This does not offer rural emotionalism nor a conventional landscape but rather a refuge in memory to preserve the essence of living life.

In this nature and this geography—inhabited by what is human—theme and basis of a writing that is demythologizing and metaphorically epiphanic. A poetry that is sensitive, intimate and secretive (what’s mine is mine) that ceases to be that way to recreate in a choral plurality that becomes or tries to become a hymn, not glorious but derogatory and —even better—tenaciously epic. In that nature and that geography, there is the imprint of a time that was and continues to be. That is a register and history of an ethnocultural sort, if you wish; in the autochthonous and originative. Typifying and identifiable names and actions (Niebla, Tornagaleones, Valdivia), make the poem sanguine and terrestrially transcendent in continual motivation and evocation, as they unfold. Memory, finally, and in the lines of the poet himself, amid his geography, “of those who in other times entered by rivers and channels to populate our southern territories.” He also writes, “Only blood, screams and women arrived along our canals.”

Not only what is simply lyrical or emotional eclogue in these crystalline and fervent waters of his transparent poetry and in its evocative syntax and language: “Hearing the closing one’s eyes”; “As the image of a star is born”; “The shadow of a bird with my own shadow.” What matters most of the time is not the poem as a song or counter song but the poem in its entirety and plurality as an epic, thundering, galactic chorus. Verbi gracia: “In the sonorous song of Niebla, Chile.” In this text as in the entire work, the playful poetic of Pedro Chadicadi takes flight with the legitimate resonance and erudition of earlier tutelary voices, the “sonorous song” of Chilean poetry with its Huidobran flights or Mandragorian splendor.

Even so, without pretense or rhetoric, but rather with simplicity and surprising winks to language, the originality and honesty of this poetry gives the poems a plural voice, a galactic voice that calls from the best of a prodigious and living nature. The poet is transformed into a resolute Icarus whose wings are only the metaphor of the real and the imaginary. That is to say, when poetry reaches the level of magic, enchantment, myth and fabulation: take that, Bird, this new invention: the word.

Jaime Quezada

Translated by Lois Baer Barr


Jaime Quezada, poet, essayist and literary critic, was born in 1942 in the city of Los Angeles, Biobío Region. Although Jaime Quezada is among the Chilean poets of the 1960s, his poetic work—unlike the production of the other members of this generation, whose main references were Sartre and the poets of the beat movement—feeds rather on themes such as family and life in the midst of nature. Along with his vast poetic work, the books Las palabras del Fabulador [The words of the fantasiser] (1968), Astrolabio [Astrolabe] (1976), and Huerfanías [Orphanhoods] (1985), engage with the ideas of freedom and liberty.

Lois Baer Barr is a reading buddy in a Chicago Public School and an emerita professor of Spanish at Lake Forest College.   Her chapbooks of poetry and flash fiction are Biopoesis and Lope de Vega’s Daughter. Twice nominated for the Pushcart Prize, she was a finalist for the Rita Dove Poetry Prize in 2019.  She  has translated stories by Alicia Steimberg and Cristina Zabalaga.  Her stories in Spanish can be seen online at Letralia.



Other Reviews in this Issue

Memoria de pájaro
Somos luces abismales
Rosa tumba quema
La tempestad que te desnuda


Ida Vitale in LALT
Number 12

In our twelfth issue, we pay homage to two giants of Latin American letters: Ida Vitale of Uruguay, winner of the 2018 Miguel de Cervantes Prize, and Julio Ramón Ribeyro of Peru, whose work we celebrate on the ninetieth anniversary of his birth. We also feature poetry, interviews, and stories that range from the Caribbean to the Andes and from Central American to Brazil, exclusive book previews and reflections from translators, and a special section dedicated to the work of Edwin Lucero Rinza, a young poet who recently published the first ever verse collection in Kañaris Quechua.

Table of Contents

Editor's Note

Featured Author: Ida Vitale

Dossier: Julio Ramón Ribeyro





Brazilian Literature


Indigenous Literature

On Translation: Seeking Publisher

Translation Previews and New Releases

Nota Bene