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UNEMPLOYED POEMS

by Raúl Hernández

Translated from the Spanish by John Burns

Poetry / Book Art / Cartonera Collective Series
Sewn Bound ︎ Linocut Cover
ISBN 978-1-945720-13-0
48 pages
Bilingual Edition



Each copy is a unique, limited edition.

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Unemployed Poems is supported in part by the National Association of Latino Arts and Cultures, the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, the Ford Foundation, Southwest Airlines, and the Surdna Foundation through a grant from the NALAC Fund for the Arts Grant Program. 


“The images in Unemployed Poems turn around the vocation of the poet and the transience of this vocation, as an extension of the fleeting nature of life itself. A man mends a stitch in his jacket as he thinks of the impermanence of a poem that flees from his memory, or writes the existential log of attempts to be present in life through a poorly paid job. Two persistent keys to all the poetry of Hernández are also found here: the struggle to prevent the loss of language, a condition presented as a threat; as well as a certain principle that Hernández calls “the purity of the distraction”, and is ultimately the element that gives his poems freshness and spontaneity. These two qualities trickle through his following books and can be understood as characteristics of the poetic speech of Raúl Hernández.”
─Ramón Díaz Eterovic


“Even more so than fruit and copper, poetry is miraculously profuse in Chile, which makes us demanding as readers almost without realizing it. Unemployed Poems is already a small classic in this country saturated with brilliance and poetic tradition, and it excels in the execution of one of the most sophisticated and subtle literary tricks of our time: its extreme apparent simplicity.”
─Andrea Palet


“The marked preference for establishing oneself in a local universe (the organ player in the plaza, the kids in the pool), along with the adherence to a concise and fragmentary verse that speaks as much through what it leaves out as through what it says, does not necessarily imply the atomization of experience or suggest that what is represented is the postcard of an exotic and far-away destination. Rather, it speaks to the obvious exclusions that can be attributed to the neoliberal system, as well as the contra-hegemonic forces opposed to it. In addition, as we have previously pointed out, it is possible to imagine a desire for transcendence in the narrator of this book, since his own conditions of existence are implicitly condemned, both in the silence presented in the slimness of the volume and in the explicit content of his discourse. Although not mentioned anywhere, it is through contrast that these Unemployed Poems create a case against contemporary Chile, with its unequal distribution of income and its permanent eagerness to exhibit itself."
─Cristián Gómez Olivares







Raúl Hernández (Santiago, Chile, 1980). Author of the books Poemas cesantes [Unemployed Poems] (2005), Paraderos iniciales [Initial Whereabouts] (2008), Caligari (2010), Estética de la lluvia [Aesthetic of the Rain] (2012), Cosas simples [Simple Things] (2014) and Películas [Movies] (2017). He has been awarded grants from Fundación Neruda (2002) and Consejo Nacional del Libro y la Lectura [National Council on Books and Reading] (2005, 2017). Some of his books have been translated into English, Italian and German. He is the poetry editor at Edicola Ediciones and a librarian at the Biblioteca de Santiago.





John Burns (Waterville, Maine, 1977). Poet, translator, associate professor of Spanish at Rockford University. He has published several translations, books and articles. Recent work includes co-editing issue 60:03 of the journal Chicago Review (2017) with Rubén Medina on the infrarrealistas, which included a large portfolio of his translations of their work from the Spanish, and the book of essays on recent Spanish-language poetry titled Contemporary Hispanic Poets: Cultural Production in the Global, Digital Age (Cambria, 2015).