cover image Woman of the River: Bilingual Edition

Woman of the River: Bilingual Edition

Claribel Alegria, Alegria. University of Pittsburgh Press, $14 (112pp) ISBN 978-0-8229-5409-5

The noted author of Flowers from the Volcano speaks of political realities with an impassioned objectivity in these poems about Central America, which confront the loss of lives as well as the slow extinction of spirit, of a culture's mythology, when war and political tyranny invade the heart of both private and public worlds. In ``Documentary,'' the poem itself is like a series of camera shots, each image a frame that captures one instant before it disappears. The urgency in this poem epitomizes Alegria's style throughout her bilingual collectionthere is a focusing on those details that expose and collapse the falsity of safe generalities. The apocalyptic vision of ``The American Way of Life'' conflates the protests in Berkeley and Israel, the political atrocities in New York and South Africa, to show how the accumulative energy of ``that endless war'' will finally destroy everything. And despite the danger of loss, Alegria accounts for how both annihilation and love, despair and hope exist together, are part of the same ritual: ``Now is a time of war / of steps leading upward / of love that seeds dreams / and shakes one.'' Author tour. (Jan.)