Michael Kleber-Diggs Recommends...

“Do you have a written work you return to over and over, knowing as you reread it, you’ll return to it again? Is there a poem or essay, an article or story that, for you, is like a psalm? For me, it’s ‘Towards the Splendid City,’ Pablo Neruda’s Nobel Lecture from 1971. It begins with a long introduction about a trip to the remotest parts of Chile that the poet took when he was younger. Neruda lets this opening passage take its time unfolding. ‘During this long journey,’ he goes on to say, ‘I found the necessary components for the making of the poem.’ He describes poetry as an action and as a way of knowing the self. Let’s say this is true for all written art. ‘There,’ Neruda says, ‘I received contributions from the earth and from the soul. And I believe that poetry is an action, ephemeral or solemn, in which there enter as equal partners solitude and solidarity, emotion and action, the nearness to oneself, the nearness to mankind and to the secret manifestations of nature.’ Neruda’s entire address grounds me. I find it useful in the way of all reminders. I can never run out of ideas; I can only be disconnected from the earth, from my soul.”
—Michael Kleber-Diggs, author of Worldly Things (Milkweed Editions, 2021) 

Photo credit: Ayanna Muata