Mexican Poet Is Next Year's Norton Lecturer
Octavio Paz, a Mexican poet who resigned as ambassador to India in 1968 to protest the killing of Mexican students by government troops, will be next year's Charles Eliot Norton Lecturer at Harvard.
Paz-who was selected by the Corporation from a list of 12 nominees-is considered one of the two or three greatest contemporary Spanish speaking poets.
"He is the outstanding poet of his generation," Juan Marichal, chairman of the Department of Romance Languages and Literatures, said recently.
"Right now you do not have a more representative voice for Latin America -representative in many different ways-than Octavio Paz." Marichal said. "He's not only an ambassador, but a critic of himself and the world. He has been a very brave man."
Paz, who was born in Mexico City in 1914, began to write poetry as a young man. He travelled to Spain during that country's Civil War, later founding a review on which many Spanish writers, exiled in Mexico after Franco's victory, collaborated.
He lived in the United States for two years of World War II, moving to Paris after the war to participate in the developing surrealist movement with such figures as Andre Breton and Benjamin Peret.
After visiting India and Japan in 1952 on behalf of the Mexican Foreign Office, he began an intensive literary effort which culminated in 1960 with the publication of Libertad Bajo Palabra ("Liberty Through the Word"), a collection of his works since 1935.
Paz has a wide range of artistic interests. His most recent concern has been the relationship between poetry, space, and movement. He recently inscribed a poem on four cardboard disks, so that by moving each disk he could give the poem a different meaning.
As Norton Lecturer, Paz will give six talks, all of which are open to the
public, throughout the Fall and Spring terms.
The Norton professorship-held since 1925 by visiting scholars who lecture on the arts-has been filled in the past by such men as T.S. Eliot, Igor Stravinsky, Ben Shahn, R Buckminster Fuller, Pier Luigi Nervi, and Lionel Trilling.
This year's Charles Eliot Norton Lecturer is Charles Eames, designer and filmmaker.