Dreaming the End of War
Benjamin Alire Saenz. Copper Canyon Press, $15 (71pp) ISBN 978-1-55659-239-3
Divided into twelve ""dreams,"" Saenz's direct and moving book-length poem traces the outline of his own life-he was raised Mexican-American in New Mexico, and has now settled in El Paso along the same border-as it highlights his own commitment to nonviolence, in verse that includes, but goes beyond, topical protest. To do so, Saenz explores violence: by terrorists against civilians, by law enforcement personnel against immigrants, by consumers and companies against the animals we take for our food. Acclaimed as a YA author as well as a poet, Saenz (Sammy and Juliana in Hollywood) seeks and sometimes finds an ethical clarity and a heartfelt tone that suggests, variously, William Stafford, and Li-Young Lee. ""I dream my sisters and brothers/ have no debts,"" Saenz writes, ""I dream that all/ the wars are done,"" ""that/ nations do not matter.""
Reviewed on: 01/02/2006