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In celebration of National Poetry Month, every day we're posting a new poem from the spoken-word album Poetic License, a three-CD set that features one hundred performers of stage and screen reading one hundred poems selected by the actors themselves. From Shakespeare and Dickinson to Lucille Clifton and Allen Ginsberg, the lineup spans contemporary American poetry and classics of the Western canon.
Pablo Neruda (1904–1973), the Nobel Prize–winning Chilean poet and activist, self-published his first book, Crepusculario (Twilight), before finding a publisher for his breakout volume Veinte poemas de amor y una cancion desesperada (Twenty Love Poems and a Song of Despair). Before the Chilean government's mid-century political shift forced him into several years of hiding, he served as his country's consul in Burma, Argentina, Mexico, and Spain, where he witnessed the Spanish Civil War and the disappearance of his fellow poet and friend Federico García Lorca, who was murdered. Neruda, who died days after the 1973 Chilean coup, published numerous volumes of poetry including Residencia en la tierra (Residence on Earth) in 1933, Espana en el corazon: Himno a las glorias del pueblo en la guerra (Spain in the Heart: Hymn to the Glories of the People at War) in 1937, and Jardin de invierno (Winter Garden) in 1974.
Joanna Gleason is a Tony Award–winning stage and screen actress who has appeared in Woody Allen's Hannah and Her Sisters and Crimes and Misdemeanors, among other films. In 1988 she won a Tony and a Drama Desk Award for her performance as the baker's wife in Into the Woods, and was nominated for both prizes for roles in Joe Egg and Dirty Rotten Scoundrels on Broadway.
"Sonnet XVII" by Pablo Neruda, from Poetic License produced by Glen Roven. Copyright © 2010 by GPR Records. Used with permission of GPR Records.