Nocturnal Thoughts after Reading Julia Esquivel, A Guatemalan Poet in Exile

by Mark Chmiel

Dear Bella Levenshteyn

Remember how last January
You read all the Yiddish works you could find
Of Yankev Glatshteyn for almost all of three weeks?

Rob Renaud S.J. is on a similar binge —
Nicaraguan, Salvadoran, Belizean, Guatemalan poets
He sent me the following last night

Perry Schimmel

 

Nocturnal Thoughts after Reading Julia Esquivel, A Guatemalan Poet in Exile

Philosophers, theologians, poets
Should write so as to be read
By ordinary people
In their communities
To remind them
To inspire them
To console them
To shake them

Philosophers, theologians, poets
Shouldn’t write so as to be read
By only elites
Or the few who know the jargon
While innocents are being slaughtered
While the commissars are telling lies and praising power
While U.S. wages overt and covert wars
While people starve and the Fortune 500 flourish

If our comfort zone is the U.S. academy or its equivalent
It will be easy to miss such Central American poets
Who have witnessed the terror
Founded and funded in El Norte
Upward mobility costs its U.S. travelers (don’t the Jesuits know this!)—
How the soul can wither!
The displaced Guatemalan unknown here—
How, in spite of so many losses, her soul glows!

—work-in-progress, Our Heroic and Ceaseless 24/7 Struggle against Tsuris

Advertisements