Leon Trainor: Valparaíso

Valparaíso for Thomas J. Lawlor, 1882–1960                                                                               Valparaíso, tattered town; tattooed too: graffiti adorn every flank of your twisted streets; a gaudy, multicoloured beast clinging to vertiginous slopes you make us giddy looking up or down. It wasn’t civic pride got you UNESCO-certified; the city fathers saw a niche: faded, nineteenth-century kitsch that almost everybody loves; so, while your galvanised-iron roofs rattle in the storms of time, improved the service industries (replaced brothels with B&Bs), let the tourists flood in. Sublime! It wasn’t always so. Prime port of its hemisphere, the town throve while clippers slipped around the Horn in droves…

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