Work Title: Only in the Meantime and Office Poems
Work Author(s): Mario Benedetti; Harry Morales, translator
87 pages, Softcover $12.00
Reviewer: Naomi Millan
As part of the Uruguayan generation of '45, the author came of literary age alongside writers such as Gabriel Garcia Marquez and Mario Vargas Llosa. Well-received in Latin America, with more than seventy-five books in every possible genre to his credit, he is best known for his prose, such as the novels La Tregua / The Truce and Primavera Con Una Esquina Rota / Springtime With a Broken Corner, which won the 1987 Amnesty International Golden Flame prize.
This new volume, a translation of two collections of poetry, offers an interesting new voice at its beginning, with the benefit of not having to wait for the subsequent oeuvre to develop. Written between 1948 and 1956, these were Benedetti's first published poetry collections. According to The New Princeton Encyclopedia of Poetry and Poetics, Benedetti's generation "felt the urgency of doing away with the dated rhetoric of the avant garde [...] and [engaged] in a passionately critical consideration of literary language." This is evidenced by a tone that is direct and conversational and a poetics that strikingly evolves even in this brief span from brooding and emotional to provocative, close social examination.
Only in the Meantime is full of longing for a sense of place and self, for a belief in God and the presence of the beloved. In "Nocturnal," a poem in part about insomnia, he writes: "I'm alone with my infancy of vigilance, / with my current illusions of God, and streets that inexplicably push me / towards a remote sea of fears." The poems...