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