Chilean poet Gonzalo Rojas dead at 93: family

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The Independent Culture

Chilean poet Gonzalo Rojas, who was forced into exile after the 1973 military coup, died Monday after suffering a debilitating stroke two months ago, one of his sons said. He was 93.

The poet, considered one of the greatest Latin American writers, won numerous literary awards in his time, including the 2003 Cervantes Prize - the top literary award for Spanish-language literature - the Chilean National Prize for Literature, the Queen Sofia Prize of Iberian American Poetry (awarded by the King of Spain), Mexico's Octavio Paz prize and the Jose Hernandez Prize of Argentina.

Culture Minister Luciano Cruz Coke said the government declared two days of official mourning starting Tuesday, adding that Rojas would be buried Wednesday in Chillan, some 450 kilometers (280 miles) south of the capital. President Sebastian Pinera was expected to attend the funeral.

The writer's son Gonzalo Rojas-May Ortiz told Radio Cooperativa the poet died "after suffering a stroke in February that kept him in serious condition for about two months."

Education Minister Joaquin Lavin called the poet's death "a great loss to Chilean literature." Rojas had been considered Chile's most important living poet.

Rojas's body of work is vast, including his first poetry anthology "The Misery of Man" in 1948, "Against Death" (1964), "Dark" (1977), "Transtierro" (1979), "On Lightning" (1981) and "From the Water" (2007).

The son of a coal miner, he was born in 1917 in the port of Lebu, 600 kilometers (370 miles) south of Santiago.