A Cruise to the Galapagos Islands (Un crucero a las Islas Galapagos) was the last book published by Antonio Cisneros before his death in 2012. The book has the subtitle, New Marian Songs (nuevos cantos marianos) and consists of 25 prose poems that invoke the Virgin as protector in danger, not in order to escape from fear but so as to traverse the zones of greatest anxiety, without turning the gaze away from catastrophe. The themes of shipwreck, illness, and death occur alongside intense alertness of the skin to the prick of an insulin injection, the feel of salt on things that flash through the slit of a skirt, or the body sensitized to the prickle of a woolly blanket on a hot night. This absolute physical aliveness causes the image of the Virgin to give way to a shipwrecked man's vision of a bar with pints of beer coming towards him over the sea. The journey to the fabled Galapagos Islands, where of course Darwin discovered the secret of the history of flesh, is both physical and symbolic. The book is a celebration of life by a man approaching his own death, a last gift to the world.
Lima and its beaches, Peruvian Amazonia and its animals, France and Virginia, the poet's daughters and grandchildren, also appear, marking intense joy at the borders of catastrophe.
Antonio Cisneros (1942-2012) was a major figure in Peruvian poetry, and a leading figure in Peru's so-called Generation of 60. Also a journalist, editor, lecturer and translator, Cisneros lived in Lima, and was awarded a number of major prizes during his lifetime, including Peru's Premio Nacional de Literature and Chile's Premio Pablo Neruda (2010). he oublished more than two dozen volumes of his own work. Volumes of his work have been published in English, Frnech, German, Dutch and Hungarian, and translations also exist in a number of other languages.
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