Salvadorian writer and activist Claribel Alegria has composed a sequence of poems, 47 sparse love letters to her late husband Darwin "Bud" Flakoll who died in 1995. Neither sentimental nor confessional, the poems draw on the struggles of Circe, Prometheus, and Orpheus as well as themes of unfinished rites, sadness, and symbolic immortality. The translator's preface is a reminiscence of her time with the couple then living in self-imposed exile, in addition to a critical introduction to the poetry.


A delight of this little volume is its layout, the juxtaposition of both Spanish and English versions on facing pages. It is said that poetry is what evaporates in translation, but translator Carolyn Forché herself is an accomplished poet. "No estoy sola / ni lo estaré jamás / me acompana tu auseñcia." "I am not alone / and never will be / your absence is my company." Again, paired with "Nostalgia II, ("I cease being us /and am again this I with its burden of winter / and emptiness."), "I Am Not Alone" speaks to the healing power of grief and remembrance.

In "The Reflections of Icarus," the daring vital youth consciously and joyously seeks death ("I am coming / the clouds are my tomb"). The mythological protagonist of this poem, anything but victim or sufferer, is a marvelous companion piece to Auden's poem, Musee des Beaux Arts and Breugel's painting, "Landscape with the Fall of Icarus" (see this database).


Translator: Carolyn Forché. Eyewitness to struggle, atrocities and exile, Alegria received the 1978 "Casa de las Americas" prize for her poetry collection Sobrevivo ("I Survive"). Forché's poetry and work on behalf of human rights was honored in 1998 with the Hiroshim Foundation for Peace and Culture Award.



Place Published

Wilmington, Conn.



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