#SurvivalStories2021 Adult Books Lifespan of a Reader Poetry Poetry Friday Reading Themes Stories Of The Dispossessed

[Poetry Friday] Imagined Poems For Chile’s Disappeared Children

Children, disappeared.

Myra here.

Thank you to the delectable Jama Rattigan @ Jama’s Alphabet Soup for hosting this week.


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Niños: Poems For The Lost Children Of Chile (Amazon | Book Depository)

Poems by Maria Jose Ferrada Illustrated by Maria Elena Valdez Translated by Lawrence Schimel Publisher: Eerdmans Books for Young Readers (2021) ISBN: 0802855679 (ISBN13: 9780802855671) Bought a copy of the book. Book photos taken by me.

When I first found about this book through translator (and award-winning author) Lawrence Schimel’s post on social media, I knew I had to get a copy. This collection of poetry is meant to pay tribute to 34 children under the age of 14 who were either arrested, executed, or disappeared (desaparecidos) under Pinochet’s violent regime from 1973 to 1990.

I was especially moved by this Introductory Note detailing the concept behind the creation of this poetry book.

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This is particularly poignant for me, mainly because as of June 2020, at least 129 children were reported to have been killed in the Philippines under Duterte’s regime and his bogus war on drugs (see Reuter news report here and Guardian’s news coverage here). While I feel absolutely crushed and devastated on occasion, I feel hopeful that as the Introductory Note says, monsters will be defeated, and the time of reckoning will come when these monstrous beings will scuttle and skulk in the shadows, where they belong, as we continue to shine a light on wrongdoings and evil practices – because we are unable to live with ourselves otherwise.

For Poetry Friday, here are some of my favourites from the poems in this collection. Note that these are imagined verses named after each of the children killed during Pinochet’s regime. Initially, I was a little uneasy about this – and I frequently looked at the endnotes to check whether the poems were inspired from specific events in the children’s lives – but I realized that while the endnotes listed the full names and ages of the children who died in Chile (some as young as one month old), the poems themselves simply contained the first names – hence, they can apply to everychild, everykid in the world.

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Despite the harrowing backdrop, the poems are sunshine, birthdays, clothing oneself with stars, and being present. It is really the latter that was intensely felt and conveyed: the idea of a child paying close attention to the movement of ants and caterpillars, the passing of clouds in the skies, and the quiet breathing of the moon captured in a glass.

Which of the poems spoke to you the most?


#SurvivalStories2021 Update: 39 out of target 100

Myra is a Teacher Educator and a registered clinical psychologist based in Al Ain, United Arab Emirates. Prior to moving to the Middle East, she lived for eleven years in Singapore serving as a teacher educator. She has edited five books on rediscovering children’s literature in Asia (with a focus on the Philippines, Malaysia, India, China, Japan) as part of the proceedings for the Asian Festival of Children’s Content where she served as the Chair of the Programme Committee for the Asian Children’s Writers and Illustrators Conference from 2011 until 2019. While she is an academic by day, she is a closet poet and a book hunter at heart. When she is not reading or writing about books or planning her next reads, she is hoping desperately to smash that shuttlecock to smithereens because Badminton Is Life (still looking for badminton courts here at UAE - suggestions are most welcome).

4 comments on “[Poetry Friday] Imagined Poems For Chile’s Disappeared Children

  1. Thanks for sharing about this book, Myra — didn’t know about it! You’re right that the poems themselves belie the tragic circumstances that inspired this collection. Thanks for sharing these samples — the last one really touched me, but all speak to childlike innocence and imagination, and seem all the more poignant when remembering these blameless children were needlessly killed.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. haitiruth

    It’s so sad that children suffer, but I know they do. Thank you for this.
    Ruth, thereisnosuchthingasagodforsakentown.blogspot.com

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Myra, thank you for sharing this book. I hope to be able to check it out a bit more as the poems you shared are beautiful, but what a sad story. Sometimes the world feels so heavy. We certainly could be doing more for our children from one end of the planet to another. (And yay! The book is available at our library. I’ve already reserved a copy.)

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Everyday I hear of children suffering, Thank you for this post. The book is lovely. They cannot be forgotten.

    Liked by 1 person

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