Small Hours of the Night: Selected Poems of Roque Dalton

Roque Dalton, Author, Rogue Dalton, Author, Hardie St Martin, Editor Curbstone Press $14.95 (228p) ISBN 978-1-880684-35-1
Long overlooked in the U.S., Dalton was born in El Salvador in 1935. He joined the Communist Party and became a guerrilla in the El Salvadoran revolution, producing a massive body of poems before being murdered in 1973. The early poems, those from a young revolutionary, are full of extravagance: ""I have this wild itch to laugh/ or kill myself"" and ""I don't believe in angels/ but the moon is now dead for me."" As Dalton's poetry matures, his imagination ranges, sometimes recklessly, running from line to line without regard for negative space or silence, but never without passion. ""Man uses his old disasters like a mirror./ An hour or so after dusk/ the man picks up the painful remnants of his day/ and worried sick he puts them right next to his heart/ he sweats like a TB patient fighting for his life/ and sinks into his deep lonely rooms."" Many of the poems written in exile in Mexico and Cuba are manly, wine-drinking montages of life on the Communist edge. In the section ""Tavern and Other Places,"" he is at his best: creatively illuminating the soul of his home country; cataloguing with humility his experiences as a soldier; and musing over some of his prisonmates, soldiers, friends and countrymen. Here Dalton achieves a ripe, formal confidence in which meaning and expression are fully integrated. The final, wry poems punch small holes in bourgeois religion, politics and life. This is the most comprehensive and scholarly edition of Dalton's poetry available in English.(Sept.)
Reviewed on: 09/02/1996
Release date: 09/01/1996
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