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Sepúlveda’s poetry has international appeal from Chile to Iceland and beyond

Imagine yourself at 19 — wide-eyed and hopeful, just waiting to see what the next years have in store. Would you ever think that the last of your teen years could mark one of your greatest accomplishments? Instructor of Spanish Jesús Sepúlveda published his first book Lugar de origen in 1987. At just 19 years old — influenced by other poets such as Nicanor Parra and Ernesto Cardenal, and heavily influenced by the beat generation — Sepúlveda was already known as a national poet.

At the young age of 12, Sepúlveda knew he had a real passion for writing. According to the Chilean native —whose work has been showcased in several magazines and anthologies in several countries worldwide— no sole thing or person has exercised a defining influence on him. Instead, Sepúlveda insists that elements from different periods of his life have had an impact on his writing. “My writing is organic. Something happens inside of me that makes me write like this,” he mused. Some of his works include: Hotel Marconi, Lugar de origen and El jardin de las peculiaridades.

Hotel Marconi was made into a movie that was released last year. Sepúlveda recalls the phone call he received from a friend: “They told me that someone else had read the book, and this person wanted to come out with a movie.” He went on saying, “What interests me is how a book of poetry becomes a movie and how people write about the movie. That’s the beauty of publishing something, it goes beyond your hands.”

Recently, El jardin de las peculiaridades has been receiving much attention. The book was published in Buenos Aires in 2001. According to Sepúlveda El jardin uses nature as a matrix to understand human cosmology. His influence while writing this book, you might ask? “Mother earth,” Sepúlveda answers simply. El jardin de las peculiaridades has been translated into English, Portuguese, French, Italian and other languages.

In September, Sepúlveda made his way to Italy after being invited there to talk about the book. Since, he has traveled to many different places —Minnesota, Ohio, and Michigan to name a few— to give presentations about his book. When asked about what it feels like to have so much international interest and support, Sepúlveda said, “It feels like a gift. It’s a great opportunity to travel and meet people.” As for the questions he receives regarding his book, Sepúlveda said, “When you write, you don’t know exactly what other people are going to think about your writing. To have readers is a great thing; they invite you to give a talk about what you have written.”

Sepúlveda will be coming out with a second edition of El jardin de las peculiaridades. “Writing is a process; you have to keep it in motion,” he said. His advice for aspiring writers: “Keep yourself honest, and really know what you feel about your own writing. Recognize that you are a peculiar being; you are unique, and if you honor that, then you are really going to be able to channel yourself.”

April Galvan is a senior at the University of Oregon. She is a double major in Spanish and Journalism with an emphasis in public relations.

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