Friday poem: 'Poe's Library' by Roberto Bolano

20 February 2015

Poe's Library

At the back of a strange barnyard,
Books or pieces of meat.
Nerves hooked on a skeleton
Or printed paper.
A vase or the door
To nightmares.

Roberto Bolano

Perhaps surprisingly to some of his fiction fans, Roberto Bolaño touted poetry as the superior art form. When asked, 'What makes you believe you're a better poet than a novelist?' Bolaño replied, 'The poetry makes me blush less'. In 1993, fearing for his health, Bolaño began collecting the poetry he had written since his arrival in Spain in 1977.

He died in 2003, leaving a wealth of manuscripts behind. His heirs write in a note at the beginning of The Unknown University: 'we found, when organizing his archives, that this was a finished volume – with an index and an explanatory note, with dates and origins for the poems – prepared for publication by Roberto.

'The present edition corresponds exactly to the manuscript we found (with only a few minimal corrections taken off of his computer). Roberto himself dates it to 1993. They were years of work and struggle, but above all years of work.'

'Poe's Library' appears in The Unknown University by Roberto Bolaño; the bilingual edition of which is published on 26 February 2015.

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