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This review is taken from PN Review 156, Volume 30 Number 4, March - April 2004.

PROOFS OF LOVE AND OBLIVION ANA ENRIQUETA TERÁN, The Poetess Counts to 100 and Bows Out: Selected Poems, translated by Marcel Smith (Princeton University Press) £8.95 pb, £22.95 hb

Venezuela's great poet Ana Enriqueta Terán published her first book in 1946. The opening poem of that book concludes: `To live as I have lived / passion is not enough, the fierce / love my hope has consumed is not enough.' It was an auspicious debut. Three years later she published her third book in as many years and was considered by many to be one of Venezuela's best poets. In 1949 the Uruguayan poet Juana de Ibarbourou wrote in a prologue for Terán's third book, Secret Greenness: `Perhaps no other woman [in Latin American poetry] apart from our Delmira Agustini has that blind, mystic rapture that strips the body and soul naked.' Terán has published twelve books of poetry since 1946. Her most recent collection is 1992's Albatross, and now at the age of eightyfour she is writing an `Autobiography in Tercets', which, she says, will not be published until after her death.

Terán's Collected Poems, Casa de hablas, was published in 1991 and contains poetry written between 1946 and 1989. Her first three books North of Blood, Earthly Presence and Secret Greenness contain some of the finest lyrics in Latin American poetry. They are sensual, often erotic poems in which blood is a central motif:

I want to leave a record of my blood, my blood
that loves the sleeping peaks and the sleeping hills.
I want to leave a record of my body in the salts
of future ...


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