cover image Another America

Another America

Barbara Kingsolver. Seal Press (CA), $14.95 (0pp) ISBN 978-1-878067-14-2

The citizens of Kingsolver's ( The Bean Trees ) other America are demonstrators whose silent vigil on the eve of Desert Storm defies the ``opera of assent'' to war. They are Nicaraguan peasants whose arrival at voting polls is ``like a pulse,'' though they risk ``any foreign bullet.'' In this first volume of poetry Kingsolver identifies with the other America's struggles so powerfully that she has her poems translated into its mother tongue--Spanish. This identification sometimes makes for strong, moving poetry. The reader shares the life sentence of emotional entrapment and betrayal that a rape victim endures when her trust, like her ``kitchen knives / and other things of mine . . . have been used against me.'' Frequently, however, Kingsolver's representations are far less compelling. ``For Sacco and Vanzetti'' fails to move beyond a tearful plaint for the unjustly executed immigrants. Stylistically, too, Kingsolver is uneven, offering intriguingly detailed descriptions of a sleeper's R.E.M.s--``Your eyes swim quick strokes / in sealed wet caves''--and abstract uses of abstract terms, wishing for a day ``when justice / is not a word / because it is air and we breathe it.'' (Mar.)