Chilean poet Tomás Harris's Cipango-written in the 1980s, first published in 1992, and considered by many to be the author's best work to date-employs the metaphor of a journey. The poems collectively allude to the voyage of Columbus, who believed that he'd reached the Far East ('Cipango,' or Japan), t the Americas. Building on that mistaken historical premise, Cipango comments on the oppressive legacy of colonialism in Latin America-manifested in twentieth-century Chile through the 1973 military coup by Augusto Pichet and the brutal dictatorship there-and on the violence and degradation of contemporary urban society. The author's vision is of a decadent, apocalyptic world that netheless contains the possibility for regeneration.
Tomas Harris is the author of Cipango and other books of poems. Daniel Shapiro is director of literature and editor of Review: Literature and Arts of the Americas at the Americas Society in New York.