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Peruvian Poets

This section deserves a good introduction, but it will require some time and thought to pull it together. So far, I have just thrown down the scafolding (there's a metapho running through the page). For the time being, I'll just leave a scattering of links to the poetry that I translated in my early years in Peru.

Finally, a word of praise for the embattled publishing houses in Peru that brought out poetry books even though there was no chance of making a profit: Milla Batres, Mosca Azul, La Rama Florida and the Casa de la Cultura/Institute Nacional de Cultura. In many cases, the poets themselves underwrote their books. A complete list can be found at Libros Peruanos.

The foundation

Diverse, experimental, stubbornly individualistic voices, sprung from the guts of Andean society. Set the mark so high that few poets could even dare to match. Continue to influence creative imagination even today in Peru.

A page on Peruvian poetry would be amiss if it did not mention the greatest poet, César Vallejo. I have not dared to even attempt to imitate his distinctive voice.'s Exhibit with a good selection of links to other sites, both in English and Spanish.


This group of poets probably are underrated because they fall between the founders and the high-profile generation that appeared in the late 1960s. Sologuren, Varela and Delgado probably stand out as the most influential.


The "Generation of the 1960s" brought together seven poets, marking a fresh wave of poetic imagination and counterculture openess. The iconic figure of this generation, Javier Heraud died young in 1963 on the Amazon frontier, trying to infiltrate into the country as a combatant in a Castroite guerrilla force. Luis Hernandez committed suicide in 1977, leaving behind a legacy of inventive notebooks of drawings and poetry, as well as his published poems. Hinostroza faded away. Calvo died in 2000. Antonio Cisnernos became the most extrovert face of Peruvian poetry, but died in October 2012. Marco Martos straddled academics and journalism while continuing to write poetry. Mirko Lauer landed in journalism while continuing to write poetry, novels and literary criticism and to teach. He recently went back to get his doctorate in literature.

Floor planks

The poets who followed the Seven had to live under their long shadow. The Hora Zero movement seemed as much as a reaction against the bard-like status of poetry as a literary manifesto. By the end of the century, poets were like all Peruvians, learning to scrap by amid the violence and impoverishment of the modern era. Remaining relevant in that setting is similar to the struggle of all poets, anywhere.