Copper Canyon Press: Uncovering the Lost Neruda

“We love poetry and believe in what it can do in the world.”

In 2015, Copper Canyon Press, an independent publisher dedicated to publishing both classic and contemporary poetry, was awarded the distinct honor of publishing a collection of Pablo Neruda poems that had been rediscovered amongst his papers in 2014. With the blessing of Neruda’s estate, they decided to launch a Kickstarter project to publish the originally handwritten volume, titled The Lost Poems of Pablo Neruda.

"There were all kinds of goosebump-inducing and emotional moments" during the campaign, says Elaina Ellis, an editor at Copper Canyon. "The moment filming our project video when artist Karie Jane broke down in tears when we handed her one of Neruda’s lost poems to read for the first time; the time a Chilean teenager wrote to us to tell us how much our project meant to her; the time a backer drove for six hours to attend our book release event in Los Angeles.”

In addition to publishing works by award-winning poets like Neruda, they’ve released debuts by up-and-comers like Ocean Vuong.

Recently, Copper Canyon reached even further back into Neruda’s archive to publish Crepusculario (Book of Twilight), his earliest collection of poems, penned in 1923 when he was only a teenager. (You can preview one of the poems here.) The book has never been published in its entirety in English, which is why Copper Canyon asked the Kickstarter community to help them translate the collection — full of youthful energy and promise of his blossoming talent — for a new generation of poetry-lovers.

Asked about their approach to publishing, the Copper Canyon team says: "We pride ourselves on taking risks, and we make our publishing decisions based on the aesthetic and cultural value we find in poetry, rather than letting the market dictate our list."