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This article is taken from PN Review 131, Volume 26 Number 3, January - February 2000.

Mexican Festivals Michael Hamburger

When, little more than a fortnight before the Poetry Festival was due, Betty Aridjis telephoned from London to invite me, my first answer was no, because a concurrence of publishing deadlines forbade any further travels in 1987. My resolve had weakened even before Betty, Homero and their daughters Chloe and Eva turned up at our out-of-the-way Suffolk home, for a visit of some twenty minutes, on their way to Cambridge by car. A poetry festival in Mexico, to me, was something different from any other professional engagement. Though I could not offer to stay on for the additional week demanded for British Council support - and demanded, too, by my special, if inexplicable, feelings for the country - somehow an air ticket would materialize, as I knew anything whatever could materialize in Mexico for someone wanted as a guest.

True, a direct flight could not be offered, though six years earlier I had flown non-stop to Mexico City. Recent experience of air travel brought me close to cancelling the trip, especially after a warning that immigration and customs formalities were required in transit, at Miami. Why? British Airways, who had received the air fare from Mexico, assured me that the return flight at least would be a direct one. The lure of Mexico, once more, and that assurance - which proved to be false - overcame my apprehensions.

These apprehensions went back to my previous visit in 1981, to the First International Poetry Festival, Michoacan. ...


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