poem index

About this poet

Claribel Alegría was born to Nicaraguan and Salvadoran parents in Estelí, Nicaragua, on May 12, 1924. She grew up in the Santa Ana area of western El Salvador, and in 1943 she moved to the United States. In 1948 she received a B.A. in Philosophy and Letters from George Washington University. Throughout her life, Alegría has emphasized her commitment to nonviolent resistance, even during her close association with the Sandinista National Liberation Front (FSLN), the people's movement that took control of the Nicaraguan government in 1979 and overthrew dictator Anastasio Somoza Debayle. In 1985, Alegría returned to Nicaragua to aid in the country's reconstruction.

Alegría's ideological and literary tendencies are a reflection of a literary current that gained momentum in Central America during the 1950s and 1960s known as "la generacion comprometida" (the committed generation). Claribel Alegría has published numerous books of poetry, including Casting Off (Curbstone Press, 2003); Sorrow (1999), which focuses on the death of her companion and translator, Darwin Flakoll; Umbrales (Thresholds, 1996); Fuga de Canto Grande (Fugues, 1992); and La mujer del río/Woman of the River (1989), a bilingual edition. She is also a writer of novels and children's stories. Alegría won the Cuban-sponsored Casa de las Américas prize in 1978 for Sobrevivo (I Survive). She resides in Managua, Nicaragua.

Rain

Claribel Alegría, 1924
As the falling rain
trickles among the stones
memories come bubbling out.
It's as if the rain
had pierced my temples.
Streaming
streaming chaotically
come memories:
the reedy voice
of the servant
telling me tales
of ghosts.
They sat beside me
the ghosts
and the bed creaked
that purple-dark afternoon
when I learned you were leaving forever,
a gleaming pebble
from constant rubbing
becomes a comet.
Rain is falling
falling
and memories keep flooding by
they show me a senseless
world 
a voracious
world--abyss
ambush
whirlwind
spur
but I keep loving it
because I do
because of my five senses
because of my amazement
because every morning, 
because forever, I have loved it
without knowing why.

From Casting Off by Claribel Alegría. Translated by Margaret Sayers Peden. Copyright © 2003 by Curbstone Press. Distributed by Consortium. Reprinted by permission of Curbstone Press. All rights reserved.

Claribel Algería

Claribel Alegría

Claribel Alegría was born to Nicaraguan and Salvadoran parents in Estelí, Nicaragua,