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Alfredo Cordal
Tongues of Fire:
Lenguas de Fuego

edited by Dinah Livingstone
published on March 24th 2011 --
Os
car Romero's Day

Poetry. 2011. 96 pages. Bilingual text.
ISBN 978-0-904872-45-3. £9.
Paperback book or pdf file.

Tongues of Fire: Lenguas de Fuego is the long-overdue collection of poetry by the exiled Chilean poet and playwright Alfredo Cordal. Now a Londoner, Alfredo is a wonderful performer of his work, both in his native Spanish and in English, and has given countless performances of his poetry in London and elsewhere. His poems have appeared in anthologies and Katabasis is delighted to be publishing this first full, bilingual collection of his work.

For Alfredo Cordal is not only a great performer; he is, above all, a wide-ranging, subtle and musical poet, also a learned and well-read poet, who carries his scholarship lightly and with grace. This collection shows some of his quality and range, both of subject-matter and tone. It stretches from Latin American themes, starting from before the Conquest, to poems about life in exile in a wide variety of moods, including two delightful poems about the poet’s dog (when the dog barks, he barks along with her). Other poems reach outwards towards figures such as the poet-forger Chatterton and the murdered García Lorca.

In his end is his beginning and the book ends with ‘Long-Ago Child Dreaming’, in which the protagonist Inca child sounds very much like the poet himself. Alfredo Cordal is a warm poet, who throughout the changes and chances of his fleeting world has kept not only his intelligent ear and eye but his humanity and kindness.

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