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Reviews 145 77ie Earfft is a Satellite of the Moon by Leonel Rugama. Trans, by Sara MUes, Richard Schaff, Nancy Weisberg. WiUimantic, CT: Curbstone Press, 1985. pp. 139. $9.00 (paperback). High/Blood/Pressure by Michelle T. Clinton. Los Angeles: West End Press, 1986. pp. 45. $4.95 (paperback). Nicaraguan poet Leonel Rugama was murdered on January 15, 1970, at the age of 20 by Somoza's National Guard. A cultural hero in Nicargua, Rugama's influence and popularity are readUy appreciated throughout the country. His verse is a favorite among the country's graffiti artists: in Managua or Mayasa, Rugama's poetry is spray-painted on walls by revolutionary cadres. Of course, Rugama can be placed historicaUy within a long tradition of Nicaraguan poet revolutionaries—Ernesto Cardenal is the best known to American audiences. This collection, deftly translated by Sara Miles, Richard Schaff and Nancy Weisberg, should do more than introduce Rugama's work to this country and link his poetry to Cardenal and the exteriorismo school of poetry. Rugama's work is brilliant—within the stylistics of exteriorismo, he fashions a powerful revolutionary poetics. "Epitaph," the poem which begins the collection (one of two epitaph poems in the volume), serves immediately to situate the American reader: Leonel Rugama rejoiced in the promised land in the hardest month of the planting with no choice but the struggle very near death but nowhere near the end. (p. 9) The poet writes his own epitaph, his own self story, within an ideological framework which will not allow his own death. This is a poetics of presence—the individual subject sustained and reinscribed in terms of the collective struggle. Rugama consistently affirmed the necessity of poUtical poetry: "if the artist gives up creating what we would call the poUtical nebula radiating throughout human nature—reducing it with propaganda and proclamations from the barricade itselfto a secondary, sporadic sun— who then would be touched by that great and wondrous spirit in aU ofus?" (p. 139) Though Rugama's poetry definitely exhibits the formal qualities ofexteriorismo, (by Cardenal's definition , "narrative and anecdotal poetry made with the elements of real life and what is concrete , with personal names and precise details . . ."), it is precisely the lyric strain informing Rugama's verse, his expression of "the political nebula" that distinguishes his work.' For example, in the title poem of the coUection, "The Earth is a Satellite of the Moon," Rugama's simple line, his use of repetition and concrete imagery, opens up in the fourth stanza to a skiUful denunciation of Western values: Apollo 2 cost more than Apollo 1 Apollo 1 cost plenty. Apollo 3 cost more than Apollo 2 Apollo 2 cost more than Apollo 1 ApoUo 1 cost plenty. Apollo 4 cost more than Apollo 3 Apollo 3 cost more than Apollo 2 Apollo 2 cost more than ApoUo 1 Apollo 1 cost plenty. 146 the minnesota review Apollo 8 cost a fortune, but no one minded because the Astronauts were Protestant they read the Bible from the moon astounding and delighting every Christian and on their return Pope Paul IV gave them his blessing. The poem continues by juxtaposing the specific reality of Rugama's Nicaragua against the yanqui Imperium: The great-grandparents of the people of AcahauUnca were less hungry than the grandparents. The great-grandparents died of hunger. The grandparents of the people of AcahauUnca were less hungry than the parents. The grandparents died of hunger. The parents of the people of AcahauUnca were less hungry than the children of the people there. The parents died of hunger, (p. 11) Technically, these Unes are the core of any historical narrative, yet Rugama transforms this statement of Uneage into clear poUtical poetics. Rugama often utiUzes historical Uneage as a device in his poetry. "The Houses were still full of smoke," for example, begins with a listing of Sandinista heroes. The poems in this collection always work within a particular historical moment and open it up to Nicaragua's long history of oppression and struggle. "Ramps and Ramps and Ramps" details the feel of the evening of September 21, 1956, when Rigoberto Perez assassinated Anastasio Somoza Debayle. The poem closes with...

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Additional Information

ISSN
2157-4189
Print ISSN
0026-5667
Pages
pp. 145-147
Launched on MUSE
2011-07-06
Open Access
No
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