Special: Roger Hickin on Sergio Badilla Castillo (Issue #3)

Photo (CC) Alexander Torrenegra @ Flickr

Photo (CC) Alexander Torrenegra @ Flickr


Issue 3 of Contrappasso features a selection of work by Chilean poet Sergio Badilla Castillo, translated by New Zealand poet, artist and publisher Roger Hickin in collaboration with the author. Roger has written this short description of Badilla’s work especially for this blog, as a guide to his main themes and many variations.


Sergio Badilla Castillo (b. Valparaíso, Chile, 1947) is a poet who, to borrow Ben Belitt’s words about Pablo Neruda, “makes a discipline of . . . [his] excesses”. Such was Badilla’s talent as a young man, he was hailed as Neruda’s heir apparent, and like Neruda’s his poetry is mercurial, oneiric, protean, torrential. Like his literary forebear too, Badilla is a nomad (his real father was a sailor), a pirate whose poems are studded with vivid images and graphic incidents ransacked from the accumulated wealth of world history and culture. On a deeper level, he is a latter-day shaman who throws himself into perilous journeys to report back on the chaos at the heart of things, transmuting his observations and experiences, jostling and blending reality and myth, certainty and uncertainty, beauty and horror, in hallucinatory, “transreal” poems that disrupt the linear coherence of past, present and future, encompassing multiple dimensions and temporalities in a single parachronic glance, whose aim is ultimately the “uchronic” (cf. “utopian”) release from the tyranny of time as the salt-grain of the lyric “I” disperses with all else into the waters of eternity.

Two bi-lingual chapbooks of Badilla’s poems––La cabeza de la Medusa / The Medusa’s head  and Espectros y Sombras / Ghosts and shadows, with translations by Roger Hickin and the author––have recently been published in New Zealand by Cold Hub Press, www.coldhubpress.co.nz



Roger Hickin is a New Zealand poet, visual artist, book designer and publisher.  Although he has written and translated poetry and since the late 1960s, for many years his main preoccupation was with sculpture and painting. In the early 2000s poetry began to demand more attention. His Waiting for the Transport (Kilmog Press, Dunedin) and The Situation & other poems (the initial Cold Hub Press chapbook), both appeared in 2009. Roger is the director of Cold Hub Press –  www.coldhubpress.co.nz – which publishes New Zealand poetry as well as international poetry in several languages, including So we lost paradise, a bilingual selected poems of Chilean poet Juan Cameron, and two chapbooks of poems by Sergio Badilla Castillo (in collaboration with the author).

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