Review by Leonard Cirno
BLOOD SOAKED DRESSES by Gloria Mindock, Ibbetson Street Press,
25 School Street, Somerville, MA, 02143: 2007, 61 pages, $13.50 postage
By Leonard Cirino
If you are tired of the self-deprecating or self-indulgent poetry that pervades the scene in the US, both in the so-called maverick or street poets, and the privileged University people who call themselves poets then this is a book for you. The book centers around El Salvador and the revolution there from 1980-1992. It is written in memory of Rufino Amaya, "the only survivor of the massacre at El Mozote, El Salvador, where she witnessed her family and the people in her village, being murdered."
Without having to take a stance at the extreme conditions in El Salvador, because they are so brutal, Mindock makes the extraordinary lives and deaths of these people come to the forefront of our consciousness. "This poetry possesses, as Yeats said, 'a terrible beauty,'" as one blurb states. For those of us who remember, and were aware of the atrocities the
US and Salvadoran Governments perpetrated on the campesinos and indigenous people of that country, this book brings back the terrors of those times.
or those of you too young or politically naïve enough not to be aware of this history it is a must read chapter of the US under Reagan, and it is
real poetry-not some flat language description of things that have little or no meaning or importance. As Dzvinia Orlowsky says, "We are reminded of Cezar Vallejo's witnesses: bones, solitude, rain, and the roads-that we
are tied to each other in beauty and suffering, life and death."
Let me quote the first seven lines of the title poem, BLOOD SOAKEDDRESSES.
Three months ago, the soldiers murdered my two little girls.
The bastards raped, tortured, and shot them in the head.
Their screams were like bad music replaying over and over in my head. I talk to them every morning, and my day is planned for me. At night they invent my dreams. My daughters are in a mass grave. They were so pretty. Children, you were brave.
Though the book is written in the voice of many it could be the wisdom and pain of Rufino Amaya herself speaking each of these dark works. It could
also be the entire population of the country of El Salvador. Though it is not a "pretty read" this is an essential book of poetry for anyone who still has the capability to "question authority." It is only more>important now that the maniacs in Washington are threatening an end to what little peace there is left and a beginning to the Third World War.
In a general way my poetics do not run to "protest" poems or statements but the inclusive love and compassion of this book overcomes hatred with beauty. Support the real thinking and independent free presses and buy this book!