Small Hours of the Night: Selected Poems of Roque Dalton

Small Hours of the Night: Selected Poems of Roque Dalton

by Roque Dalton

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From the Publisher

"Finally and gloriously here are the poems of Roque Dalton, one of the most compelling Central American poets it has been my privilege to read." -- Ariel Dorfman

"He was brilliant. His presence alone gave off light." -- Juan Gelman

[Dalton's poetry illustrates] his profound conviction that the poet can and must, in his life as in his work, serve as the finely-honed scalpel of change, both in word and deed..." -- Claribel Alegria

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Long overlooked in the U.S., Dalton was born in El Salvador in 1935. He joined the Communist Party and became a guerrilla in the El Salvadoran revolution, producing a massive body of poems before being murdered in 1973. The early poems, those from a young revolutionary, are full of extravagance: "I have this wild itch to laugh/ or kill myself" and "I don't believe in angels/ but the moon is now dead for me." As Dalton's poetry matures, his imagination ranges, sometimes recklessly, running from line to line without regard for negative space or silence, but never without passion. "Man uses his old disasters like a mirror./ An hour or so after dusk/ the man picks up the painful remnants of his day/ and worried sick he puts them right next to his heart/ he sweats like a TB patient fighting for his life/ and sinks into his deep lonely rooms." Many of the poems written in exile in Mexico and Cuba are manly, wine-drinking montages of life on the Communist edge. In the section "Tavern and Other Places," he is at his best: creatively illuminating the soul of his home country; cataloguing with humility his experiences as a soldier; and musing over some of his prisonmates, soldiers, friends and countrymen. Here Dalton achieves a ripe, formal confidence in which meaning and expression are fully integrated. The final, wry poems punch small holes in bourgeois religion, politics and life. This is the most comprehensive and scholarly edition of Dalton's poetry available in English.(Sept.)
Library Journal
Political activist and Marxist Dalton, one of the most widely read, admired, and influential Salvadoran writers of his time, was executed in 1975 at the age of 40. These combative poems, a retrospective from nine collections penned mostly during the turbulent 1960s, are his legacy. They enunciate in a direct, conversational tone the poet's preoccupation with social injustice. Deploying thematic constants, like death ("Learning how to die/ that's what life was") and water ("The water is like oblivion, always there"), Dalton weaves lines fraught with anguish and wrought with emotion. The six collaborators produced eloquent translations, a fitting sequel to the earlier Poems (LJ 8/84). Recommended for larger collections.Lawrence Olszewski, OCLC Lib., Dublin, Ohio

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Northwestern University Press
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5.50(w) x 8.50(h) x 0.90(d)

Meet the Author

Roque Dalton García (San Salvador, El Salvador, 14 May 1935 – Quezaltepeque, El Salvador, 10 May 1975) was a leftist Salvadoran poet and journalist. He is considered one of Latin America's most compelling poets. He wrote emotionally strong, sometimes sarcastic, and image-loaded works dealing with life, death, love, and politics.

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