July 1, 2011

Jorge Cáceres

Jorge Cáceres [Sergio Luis Cáceres Toro] [Chile]

Born in Santiago, Chile on April 18, 1923, Jorge Caceres as a poet, visual artist, and dancer who began his contributions at an early age.

He begin studying at the Institute Luis Campino and later at the Internado Nacional Barros Arana, one of the best public schools in all of Chile. Without finishing high school, Caceres enrolled in the Dance School of the Ballet Nacional de Chile, working under the German choreographer, Ernst Uthoff. The young dancer quickly became one of the central figures of the ensemble. He became the principal dancer of the Ballet Joos in Santiago.

In 1938, at the early age of fifteen, Caceres joined the Chilean Surrealist group Mandragora at a ceremony at the University of Chile, the founders summoning the "spirit of perpetual rebellion, seeking to forge an unexpected and amazing allegory of living."

The young poet-dancer met the great poet Vicente Huidobro the next year, and was strongly influenced by his work, writing his first poems, creating collages, photomontages, and calligrams, which he showed with Braulio Arenas in two exhibits in 1941 and 1943. In 1948 his work was exhibited at the Galerie Bard in Paris. His poems appeared in the Surrealist publications VVV and Tropiques

Caceres tragically died at the age of 26 in his apartment of either accidental or intentional affixation from gas.


René o la mecánica celeste (1941); Pasada libre (1941); Por el camino de la gran pirámide polar (1942); Monumento a los pájaros (1942); Textos inéditos (ed. by Enrique Gómez-Correa)(Toronto: Oasis, 1979)


in Ludwig Zeller, ed. The Invisible Presence: Sixteen Poets of Spanish America 1925-1995, trans. by Beatriz Zeller (Oakville, Ontario/Buffalo: Mosaic Press, 1996)

There is a Great Desert

There is a great desert between Madame and me
A lion's head cast in plaster
It resembles one of the objects I have just built
An object much like current summer
The lion's jaws are two corncobs from the most recent havest
Which have been dragged around the entire countryside
Its eyes are two dried-out lobsters
Its back is represented by an immesne granary where English tourists often get lost
They will be coming from the seashore
Toward the opposite side of Guyana
The first tourist often visits me a six o'clockHe usually leans both his elbows on a table laden with delicious sweets
When be brings a bread basket brimming with bits of lamb-meat from the kitchen
The guests in formal dress disappear under the resort street lights
They carry their food in their pocketsHis attitude has changed in the last few days
The change is due
To the fact that he works eight hours a day on the construction of a pyramid of water sprinklers
Under which he his wife and their six children will spend the summerA great number of white rats are running in circles around his nose
He nails them to a board at the entrace to his hut
with great eloquence

—Translated from the Spanish by Beatriz Zeller


Paul Klee
Be an accomplice of the landscape beating in full flight
Like a well-fed fire hands up!
The children are guilty of their endless green eyes
They have dispelled the sky in broad daylight
With charming smiles
With games that are no longer innocent
The clouds in the bathtub the respect for our parents
And the great traps of precise calculations.

The beaches are being watched by bargain blind men
The sense of touch in the swimmers' eyesAnd fever's curve over the great rocks
They have wasted their time on the seashoreWithout a word of compensation they remain at their postsover the delicious scales of good weather

The octopus the wolf the tapir the ermine
Are just memory's gameEnhanced by the animal scale
A face in the desert and the hand in the middle of the landscape
Have broken the ring of eulogies.

—Translated from the Spanish by Beatriz Zeller


Douanier Rousseau
To Aimé Césaire

The explosive midday sun hits the herds of flame-throwers and sets the helpless throats on fire
Eyes of a helpless sun lightning-bolt under traps for squirrels
Under consecutive rains for lianas the palpitating flood-gates at the mercy of tattoos
Of boomerang hair the hands of mosquitoesAn ambushed breeze drags the crows' feather
To the lion's entrance the upholstery roars
And the night will be brief around the fire.

Tribe without name.

In the great wells of pollen in the bamboo inside the felt
In treasures eaten away by voracious poppies
In the swaying reflections of the sycamore trees
In the chameleon's throatOn the back of a flood of eucalyptus trees thrice blackened

Tribe without nameOn the trail of the wild pig
The surpise of chinchillas caught in a flash of light
In craters and the decay unfolding with the wind like the parrot's flight
A night of fine-smelling forests
Lightning plunges into white glass with red touches where the buffalo drink
One swig of the cayman's dream

Tribe without nameFull of glances of comets at the end of the desert
Eagerly breathing self-love
For each breast that rouses there is a poisoned dart waiting
As well as a head dressed in python earrings
And totemic pearlsWhich reach the last dimension in the panther's eye view
Without justice
Unfolding black fans made from vague pearls on an evaporating beach
Tribe without name
Without justice
To death

—Translated from the Spanish by Beatriz Zeller

English language translations copyright ©1996 by Beatriz Zeller.

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