You can’t go wrong with this book for your Valentine.
Why are you recommending Twenty Love Poems & a Song of Despair by Pablo Neruda as the perfect gift for your Valentine?
Joe: Because no one writes love poems like Neruda - he is sensual yet courtly, uses unexpected imagery, and can knock you over with a beautiful phrase. This edition is small, pairs the poems with accompanying art by Pablo Picasso, and also features the original Spanish verses on the facing page.
Kelsey: It’s a small book that packs a lot of punch! I think Neruda is very accessible and so the book is perfect for poetry lovers and the people like me who don’t always “get poetry”.
When did you first read Neruda?
Joe: I first read Neruda in the summer of 1995, after seeing the lovely movie Il Postino, a fictionalized account of Neruda's stay on the island of Capri in 1952 (based on the novel by Antonio Skarmeta). I tracked down several of his books of poems and also read his fascinating memoirs.
Kelsey: I think I bought my first copy of this book at Kepler’s Books... I was probably in high school.
3. What do you love about Neruda’s work?
Joe: In addition to my answer for the first question - Neruda is very open in his poetry, honest without being overly earnest. At weddings I have moved mothers to tears with one of his poems from 100 Love Sonnets. He has a deep appreciation for the beauty of nature, for landscape and its ties to the body. Neruda was also not afraid to get political - he was an outspoken critic of authoritarian regimes in his native Chile, leading to his exile on more than one occasion, as well as (probably) his death under the Pinochet government.
Kelsey: His words feel like what love is.
What is your favorite poem or line in Twenty Love Poems?
Joe: It is hard to pick a favorite from Twenty Love Poems, but I love Poem VII, which features these lines: "The birds of night peck at the first stars / that flash like my soul when I love you."
Kelsey: “Love is so short, forgetting is so long.”
Get your copy of Twenty Love Poems & a Song of Despair by Pablo Neruda at Yellow Dog Bookshop!