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World Poetry Day 2016 is here in celebration of the unique ability of poetry to capture the creative spirit of the human mind. There is nothing better than spreading the power of language through poetry and one of the main objectives of the commemorative day started by the United Nations is to support linguistic diversity through poetic expression and to offer endangered languages the opportunity to be heard.
While English and American poets dominated the literary scene for quite some time, effective translations and encouragement by publishers have only recently led to non-English poets gaining recognition beyond their home countries. This Poetry Day, IBTimes UK brings you some of the most celebrated non-English poets whose works you must read:
Born as Ricardo Eliécer Neftalí Reyes Basoalto, the Chilean poet and politician took the pen name at a later stage and is famous among romanticism lovers as his poems are considered to be among the most celebrated love pieces ever penned. He went on to win the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1971.
Although he was famous for his love poems, Neruda also wrote surrealist poems, historical epics, overtly political manifestos and even a prose autobiography. Colombian novelist Gabriel García Márquez once called Neruda "the greatest poet of the 20th century in any language".
Must read: Twenty Love Poems and a Song of Despair, 100 Love Sonnets, Still Another Day
Jorge Luis Borges
Argentinian literary legend Jorge Luis Borges wrote in Spanish and is one of the most celebrated Latin American poets of all time best known for his magical realism style of exploring the crannies of the human psyche.
Though several of Borges's translations appeared in literary magazines and anthologies during the 1950s, his international fame dates from the early 1960s onwards. Borges was, however, never awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature as some observers believe that this was due to his conservative political views, or more specifically, because he accepted an honour from Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet.
Must Read: Jorge Luis Borges Selected Poems Edited by Alexander Coleman
Recognised as one of Israel's finest poets, Amichai's poems—written in Hebrew—have been translated into 40 languages, and entire volumes of his work have been published in English, French, German, Swedish, Spanish, and Catalan. His writing is characterized by gentle irony and original, often surprising imagery. The New York Times had described him as "One of very few contemporary poets to have reached a broad cross-section without compromising his art".
Must Read: Selected Poems Edited by Ted Hughes and Daniel Weissbort and Songs of Jerusalem and Myself translated by Harold Schimmel
The Mexican poet-diplomat and writer is considered one of the most influential writers of the 20th century and one of the greatest Hispanic poets of all time. His poetic corpus is nourished by the belief that poetry constitutes "the secret religion of the modern age."
A remarkable prose stylist, Paz has written a prolific body of essays, including several book-length studies in poetics, literary and art criticism, as well as on Mexican history, politics and culture. He went on to receive the Miguel de Cervantes Prize in 1981, the Neustadt International Prize for Literature in 1982 and the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1990.
Must Read:Poemas 1935-1975 (1981) and Collected Poems, 1957-1987 (1987)
Swedish poet Transtromer is considered to be one of the most influential Scandinavian poets in recent decades. His work is often characterised by a sense of mystery and wonder underlying the routine of everyday life, a quality which often gives his poems a religious dimension.
Transtörmer published 15 collected works over his extensive career, which have been translated into over 60 languages. Although his work has been around for decades he received the Nobel Prize in Literature only in 2011.
Must Read: The Great Enigma Translated by Robin fulton and 17 Poems
Czeslaw Milosz ranks among the most respected figures in twentieth century Polish literature, as well as one of the most respected contemporary poets. Milosz wrote in a tragic, ironic style that nonetheless affirmed the value of human life mostly inspired from his personal experience of living under oppressive communist regimes.
The communist regime in Poland had in fact refused to publish the books of a defector and for many years only underground editions of his poems were secretly printed and circulated in Poland. But in 1980, when Milosz was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature, the communist government was forced to relent.
Must Read: New and Collected Poems and The Witness of Poetry
Rainer Maria Rilke
The Bohemian-Austrian poet and novelist was widely recognized as one of the most lyrically intense German-language poets writing in both verse and highly lyrical prose. Rilke was unique in his efforts to expand the realm of poetry through new uses of syntax and imagery and in the philosophy that his poems explored. Rilke expressed ideas with "physical rather than intellectual symbols.".
Must Read: Letters To a Young Poet, The Sonnets To Orpheus
Tagore was a Bengali literary icon who reshaped Bengali literature, music, as well as Indian art in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. He wrote in both English and Bengali and the profoundly sensitive, fresh and beautiful verse reflected in his works made his poetic thought an integral part of the literature of the West. He was the first Indian to be awarded the Nobel Prize for literature and till date remains the only one to be so.
Must Read: Gitanjali
Is there a soul who appreciates poetry and has not read Rumi? Less likely. Originally known as Jalāl ad-Dīn Muhammad Rūmī, the Persian writer's influence has transcended national borders and ethnic divisions.
His poems have been widely translated into many of the world's languages and transposed into various formats making him one of the most popular and best selling poets in the word. Although most of the poets on this list are of the 19th and 20th century, the mere fact that Rumi's popularity has never died through centuries is a testament to his inclusion in our list.
Must Read: Everything, but do check for the most popular translations
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