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Neruda: The Poet’s Calling

Tuesday, September 4, 2018 at 4:30pm to 7:00pm

A.D. White House, Guerlac Room 29 East Ave, Ithaca, NY 14850

Neruda: The Poet’s Calling

*Co-sponsored with the History Department

Tuesday, September 4th, A.D. White House, 4:30pm, Reception follows

Mark Eisner will talk about his definitive biography of the poet Pablo Neruda, a moving portrait of one of the most intriguing and influential figures in Latin American history. Few poets have captured the global imagination like Pablo Neruda. In his native Chile, across Latin America, and in many other parts of the world, his name and legacy have become almost synonymous with liberation movements, and with the language of erotic love.  "Neruda: The Poet’s Calling" is the product of fifteen years of research by Mark Eisner, writer, translator, and documentary filmmaker. The book vividly depicts Neruda’s monumental life, potent verse, and ardent belief in the “poet’s obligation” to use poetry for social good. It braids together three major strands of Neruda’s life—his world-revered poetry; his political engagement; and his tumultuous, even controversial, personal life—forming a single cohesive narrative of intimacy and breadth.                                                                                   

Empathetic but unflinching when occasion calls for criticism, Eisner weaves his subject's stanzas that resonate with the poet's personal stories. A real treat is the who's who of intellectual luminaries who make cameos throughout, revealing the synergistic interconnectivity of Latin American, North American, and European literary and leftist traditions.

The fascinating events of Neruda’s life are interspersed with Eisner’s thoughtful examinations of the poems, both as works of art in their own right and as mirrors of Neruda’s life and times. The result is a book that animates Neruda’s riveting story in a new way—one that offers a compelling narrative version of Neruda’s life and work, undergirded by exhaustive research, yet designed to bring this colossal literary figure to a broader audience.

Mark Eisner has spent most of the past two decades working on projects related to Pablo Neruda. Neruda: The Poet's Calling, his biography of the poet, was published to critical acclaim in March 2018 by Ecco/HarperCollins. Previously, he conceived, edited, and was one of the principal translators for City Lights' The Essential Neruda: Selected Poems. He also wrote the introduction to City Lights’ first ever English translation of Neruda’s venture of the infinite man, a project he developed. He is now producing a documentary on Neruda, with support from Latino Public Broadcasting. An initial version, narrated by Isabel Allende, won the Latin American Studies Association Award of Merit in Film.

Eisner holds a BA in English and Creative Writing from the University of Michigan. He earned an MA in Latin American Studies from Stanford University, where he later served as a Visiting Scholar. Eisner was involved with the founding of the Red Poppy Art House in San Francisco's Mission district, and continues to help lead Red Poppy the literary-non profit, "dedicated to the power of Latin American poetry to not only evoke emotions, but to shift social consciousness, sparking both individual and collective change." They recently created a multilingual anthology of Latin American resistance poetry, which Eisner co-edited.

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Event Type



Latino Studies Program, History, Romance Studies, Comparative Literature, Latin American Studies Program (LASP), Global Learning, Global Cornell, Mario Einaudi Center for International Studies

Contact E-Mail


Mark Eisner

Speaker Affiliation

Author, translator, and film maker

Disability Access Information

Wheelchair Accessible, rear entrance off parking lot to left of the building

Open To

Free and Open to the Public

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