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The Life, Death, and Works of Pablo Neruda

The following segment is a compilation of recordings, documenting the final years of Pablo Neruda. The program begins with the poet’s Nobel Prize acceptance speech, before the Swedish Academy. He reads a poem that reflects on his flight from Chile to Peru. The speech is followed by a heart-rending interview with Neruda’s widower, Matilde Urrutia. She speaks about his last days. Her story maintains its relevance, as the circumstances of his death has been controversial and debated in recent years.

Peppered throughout her interview with Salvatore Bizzarro, Neruda reads a selection of his works to an audience at the Unterberg Poetry Center. This 1966 recording documents his first visit to the United States. In November 2013, the 92nd Street Y commemorated this initial reading by inviting celebrated contemporary poets to read and speak on his behalf.

Pablo Neruda (1904-1973) was a Chilean poet and diplomat. Many have praised him as the greatest poet of the Spanish language of our time. Few English speakers have been able to recognize his work because most of his work has yet to be properly translated. He became recognized for his talents as a writer at an early age, having published his first work at the age of 13. As a young man he became friends with Spanish poets Rafael Alberti and Federico García Lorca and the Peruvian poet César Vallejo. Simultaneous to his career as a writer, he was a member of the Communist party and even an advocate for Joseph Stalin. He worked as a diplomat in Chile, Argentina, Spain, and Mexico. Two years before his death, Neruda won the Nobel Prize for literature.

This program has been restored by the Clocktower Radio, with assistance of Charles Ruas, and by agreement with the Columbia Rare Book & Manuscript Library, home to the historic audio of Charles Ruas.


Historic Audio from the Archives of Charles Ruas


An unparalleled collection of recovered and restored programs from the seventies produced by Charles Ruas, and featuring Allen Ginsberg, John Giorno, Anaïs Nin, William Boroughs, Buckminster Fuller, Sylvia Plath, Pablo Neruda, and Jorge Luis Borges, among numerous others.