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by César Vallejo

Translated by Joseph Mulligan

Roof Books just couldn’t resist treating its readers to this previously untranslated prose work of César Vallejo in Against Professional Secrets. These poems brilliantly translated by Joseph Mulligan attack the received wisdom of poets in favor of a completely lived existence. Collected from a cardboard box in Vallejo’s archive, this volume represents a series of prose poems that were selected by the author for publication along with material that he was in the process of choosing from before he died including the additions and deletions he proposes. Not only does this work expose the poetic process of the writer that Jerome Rothenberg describes as “the greatest of the great South American poets,” but it also introduces the reader to a poet capable of rewriting himself: "A time of thoroughfare contained my family.”"

The prose pieces in Against Professional Secrets offer an oblique explanation for Vallejo’s eschewing the radical poetic experimentation of Trilce in favor of the limpidness of the work he wrote in Europe. A rebuke of the codes of confidentiality that certain professions, poetry included, require of its practitioners, Vallejo's politic and poetic stance articulates how poetry cannot be only for initiates. Motifs running through Trilce appear here reworked and accessible. Language’s insufficiencies: "Might it not be that the words supposed to help me express myself in this case were spread throughout all the languages of the land and not only in one of them?" The autochthonous vs. the so-called universal: "Lorca is Andalucian. Why don’t I have the right to be Peruvian?" This is an essential, if overlooked, book in Vallejo’s corpus.
- Mónica de la Torre

100 pages
ISBN: 978-1-931824-42-2
Publication date: April 2011


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