Abbot Poetry Salon celebrates Pablo Neruda

On Tuesday, Jan. 17, the Poetry Salon at Abbot Public Library will discuss Pablo Neruda, a Chilean poet-diplomat and politician who won the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1971.

Neruda’s parents were ashamed of him and believed poetry was a trivial pursuit. But after selling all of his possessions, Neruda published his first book “Pablo Neruda.”

The following year, Neruda found a publisher for “Veinte Poemas de Amor y Una Canción Desesperada” (“Twenty Love Poems and a Song of Despair”), which would become one of his best known and most translated works. He became a celebrity who gave up his studies at the age of twenty to devote himself to his craft.

“I love the way that he uses his Spanish language. His use of the language is just beautiful, and he makes you fall in love with Spanish,” said Claire Keyes, Professor Emerita at Salem State University.

In 1927, Neruda began his long career as a diplomat in the Latin American tradition of honoring poets with diplomatic assignments, leading Neruda to a career of private and public concerns and ultimately becoming known as the “people’s poet.”

Almost 10 years later, the outbreak of the Spanish Civil War in 1936 interrupted Neruda’s poetic and political development. He chronicled the horrendous years, including the execution of his friend Federico García Lorca, which influenced him to join the Republican Movement and gave him the push to start his collection of poems, “Espana en el Corazon” (“Spain in Our Hearts”), published in 1937.

“Espana en el Corazon” influenced Neruda’s career greatly by being printed during the Civil War.

Diagnosed with cancer while serving a two-year term as ambassador to France, Neruda resigned from his position, ending his diplomatic career. On September 23, 1973, just 12 days after the defeat of Chile’s democratic regime, Neruda —the man widely regarded as the greatest Latin American poet since Ruben Darío — died in Santiago, Chile.

Keyes will be hosting the discussion of Pablo Neruda’s poems at the Abbot Public Library’s interim location on Brook Road on Tuesday, Jan. 17, from 1:00 pm – 3:00 p.m. or via Zoom.

To attend via Zoom, please register at or visit