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Manuel Maples Arce: City: Bolshevik Super-Poem in 5 Cantos
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Translator: Brandon Holmquest

Poetry | $10 ($8 direct from UDP)
Hand-bound. 32 pp, 5.25 x 7.5 in.
Publication Date: February 28, 2010
Series: Lost Lit


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Written between 1922 and 1924, the year it was published, City: Bolshevik Superpoem in 5 Cantos is a long-form poem that became the most politically and aesthetically aggressive of the career of Mexican avant-garde poet Manuel Maples Arce. The subject is the “City” in state of revolutionary turmoil; however, the specifics of what city remains opaque. References to Mexico City and Xalapa are both discernible in the text, but perhaps only as the inspiration for a future Stridentist city, elsewhere referred to as Stridentopolis. The poem evokes the City tracing a narrative of revolution from its early exuberance, through periods of violence, and finally to a sort of hollow, confused disappointment in the final canto. This narrative was directly drawn from Maples Arce's own experiences with the Mexican Revolution and its very messy aftermath.


07.02.14 | Manuel Maples Arce’s City: Bolshevik Super-Poem in 5 Cantos reviewed by Zoe Tuck in The Volta Blog

08.01.10 | City: Bolshevik Super-Poem is reviewed in Cross Cultural Poetics number 23

03.08.10 | City: Bolshevik Super-Poem in 5 Cantos by Manuel Maples Arce is featured on InDigest Picks

Manuel Maples Arce

Manuel Maples Arce was born in 1898, and studied law in Mexico City. He was a judge and later Secretary General of the Government in the city of Xalapa, state of Veracruz, under the controversial revolutionary General Jara. During this same period he became the central figure in the Stridentist Movement, a very ambitious avant-garde group that flourished under General Jara's protection. Composed of a small group of poets and visual artists (especially engravers and printmakers), Stridentism bore resemblence to both Futurism and Dada, as well as many similar groups throughout Latin America, but was much more radical, politically, and came much closer to the realization of many of their goals, since they effectively were the government in Xalapa for a brief period in the 1920's. General Jara was eventually deposed and murdered and the group dispersed. Maples Arce went on to become a diplomat, serving as the Mexican ambassador first to France, then Canada. He continued writing poetry as well as essays and criticism. His collected poems was published in Mexico in 1971. Maples Arce died in 1981. 

Brandon Holmquest co-founded and edits the translation journal Calque with Steve Dolph. After five print issues Calque is currently operating online with future chapbook editions forthcoming. He has translated the works Francisco de Quevedo, Ruben Darío, Nicanor Parra, various members of the Infrarrealist Movement and the Stridentist Movement, most of which have appeared in Calque. His primary interest as a translator is in the numerous and highly varied avant-garde writing of Latin America circa 1950 to the present, most of which is woefully unknown in the United States. A book of original Holmquest’s poems is forthcoming in the Fall 2009 from Kristin Gallagher and Chris Alexander's new Truck Press.