The following interview of William O’Daly by Lois P. Jones originally aired on KPFK Los Angeles on Wednesday, August 19th, 2009 (reproduced with permission).
Biographical Information—William O’Daly
A resident of the Sierra Nevada foothills of northern California, William O’Daly is a poet, translator, and fiction writer. His published works include eight books of the late and posthumous poetry of Chilean Nobel laureate Pablo Neruda (Still Another Day, The Separate Rose, Winter Garden, The Sea and the Bells, The Yellow Heart, The Book of Questions, The Hands of Day, and World’s End), and a chapbook of his own poems, The Whale in the Web. O’Daly was a finalist for the 2006 Quill Award in Poetry for Still Another Day and was profiled on NBC’s The Today Show. A National Endowment for the Arts Fellow, he has worked as a literary and technical editor, a college professor, and an instructional designer; his poems, translations, essays, and reviews have been published in a wide range of magazines and anthologies. He is a board member of Poets Against War and co-founder of Copper Canyon Press. With co-author Han-ping Chin, he recently completed a historical novel, This Earthly Life, based on the Chinese Cultural Revolution. (Photo by Jill Engel-Cox)
Biographical Information—Pablo Neruda
Pablo Neruda was born Neftalí Eliecer Ricardo Reyes Basoalto in Parral, Chile, in 1904. He served as consul in Burma (now Myanmar) and held diplomatic posts in various East Asian and European countries. In 1945, with his poetry having gained a wide international following, Neruda was elected to the Chilean Senate. Shortly thereafter, when Chile’s political climate took a sudden turn to the right, Neruda fled on horseback over the Andes and lived as an exile for many years. Beloved by the Chilean people and looked upon wearily by the Chilean aristocracy and the right wing (though nearly all Chileans can recite at least two of his love poems), his poetry garnered prizes the world over. His collected works would eventually span five large volumes. In 1970 he was appointed Chile’s ambassador to France, and in 1971 he was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature. He died in 1973, twelve days after the military coup that brought Augusto Pinochet to power and ended Chilean democracy for almost two decades.
William O’Daly: Late and Posthumous Neruda Series (and More)
Publisher: Copper Canyon Press
Author: Pablo Neruda
Translator: William O’Daly
Most Recent and Final Neruda Book
World’s End (February 2009)
Neruda Books Published in Series, in Sequence*
Still Another Day
The Separate Rose
The Sea and the Bells
The Yellow Heart
The Book of Questions
The Hands of Day
*First six books are currently in 2nd editions.
Praise for William O’Daly’s Neruda Translations
“O’Daly, like his poetic counterpart Neruda, has entered into the polis of poetry and we, as readers, are made richer for his efforts. Long may they continue.” —The Great American Pinup
“O’Daly’s translations capture both the spirit and the feeling of the originals.” —Choice
“O’Daly’s translations achieve a tone that is both meditative and spontaneous.” —Publishers Weekly
“La rosa separada [The Separate Rose] represents Pablo Neruda at the peak of his art, and William O’Daly has done an important service by bringing it before American readers with such care.” —The Bloomsbury Review
“O’Daly has provided a perceptive and skillful translation.” —San Francisco Chronicle
“Essential.” —Library Journal
“O’Daly has spent more than 20 years translating Neruda’s late work, and here he brings his awe-inspiring nine-volume* Copper Canyon project to a conclusion with taut, spare renderings that capture what, in the end, is the hopeful pith of Neruda’s troubled old-age rumination: “The world was finishing us / and we went on losing / winning more each day.” Neruda turned the whole dramatic odyssey of his life into a poem in progress, and O’Daly’s work reminds us how astonished and grateful we should continue to be.” —Los Angeles Times, Sunday Book Review
“William O’Daly’s translation of Pablo Neruda’s book-length poem, Fin de mundo (or World’s End) is a veritable poet’s companion and guide to the twentieth century . . . O’Daly brings Neruda’s deserving Spanish poems into English with the careful eye and impeccable hand of a master poet.” —Sacramento Book Review
* O’Daly translated eight volumes of the nine volumes in the series.
Recently Published Work and Interviews
Narrative (magazine), Spring 2009 Online and Print Editions
Two Poems: “Greeting” and “Steering the Gyre”
Special One-Hour “Bibliocracy” Interview, with host Andrew Tonkavich
KPFK Radio, Los Angeles. Air Date: June 1, 2009, 12:00 p.m.
Scroll down to the Bibliocracy entries and look for the air date.
This interview features readings from World’s End and discussion of the book; discussion of a two-part essay published in 2006, titled “A Winter’s Sun: Writing Against Torture”; and a reading and discussion of Mr. O’Daly’s own poetry, in particular the widely published poem “To the Forty-third President of the United States of America.”
“On the Corner,” with host Bryan Sanders
World Wide Radio, BlogTalk. Air date: March 5, 2009
Interviewed focuses on the publication of World’s End and the culmination of the decades-long series. This show was BlogTalk’s “Featured Episode” for March 2009.
“Insight,” with host Jeffrey Callison
KXJZ Radio, Sacramento. Air date: February 9, 2009
Interview focuses on World’s End, translation and poetry, and to some extent on the politics of Neruda. Mr. Callison brought Mr. O’Daly back on his award-winning NPR show, after a two-year hiatus.
Copper Canyon Press
Copper Canyon Press is a nonprofit publisher that believes poetry is vital to language and living. Since 1972, the Press has published poetry exclusively and has established an international reputation for its commitment to authors, editorial acumen, and dedication to the poetry audience. As the preeminent independent publisher of poetry, Copper Canyon Press fosters the work of emerging, established, and world-renowned poets for an expanding audience.