cover image Fugues


Claribel Alegria, Claribel Alegrc-A, Claribel Alegra. Curbstone Press, $10.95 (143pp) ISBN 978-1-880684-10-8

El Salvadoran native Alegria, the leading poetic spokesperson in support of the Sandinistas, currently lives in Nicaragua. Distanced from her anguished homeland, she attempts in her poetry to develop gentle themes. Thus this bilingual volume consists mainly of elegies and love poems. Many are mere aphorisms, however; ``I left off being me/ and began forever/ being us,'' one entire poem reads. Sparse on imagery, these tidbits ask little from readers, and give little back. In numerous three-, four- and five-line poems, as in the volume's longer pieces, Flakoll's translation sticks close to the Spanish original. The excitement of transformation and discovery one finds in Carolyn Forche's translation of Alegria's poetry in Flowers from the Volcano is sorely lacking. The English versions here are littered with cliches: ``the sun of my yesterdays,'' ``you're under my skin,'' ``the bosom of the earth.'' Demeter, Odysseus, Persephone and other figures from Greek mythology (whom Alegria calls upon to give their own accounts of exile) seem wholly out of place in both her physical and emotional landscape. Readers open this volume expecting the work of a master; instead it reads like a naive first collection. Translator Flakoll, the poet's U.S.-born husband, also collaborated with her on the novel, Ashes of Izalco. (Nov.)