Poetry Sunday: “La Perla," by Doreen Stock

  La Perla was first published in The Politics of Splendor (Alcatraz Editions 1984), edited and printed by Stephen Kessler, reprinted here with permission of the author and available for order here.   Poet, essayist, and memoirist Doreen Stock has been exploring creative nonfiction for thirty-plus years from the feminine point of view as a wife, mother of three, single human, and grandmother of eleven. Her first book of poems, The Politics of Splendor (Alcatraz Editions 1984), combining her poetry and prose poems with her translation from the work of Marina Tsvetaeva and Anna Akhmatova, was part of a New American Writers exhibit at the Frankfurt Book Fair in 1984. During her early years living in Mill Valley, California, she worked in literary translation of women poets, Gabriela Mistral among them, and these translations were her strongest literary influences. Always working at the border of prose and poetry, led Stock quite naturally into memoir writing. While raising three children she wrote two book-length memoirs: FIVE: The Transcript of a Journey, detailing her family travels through Europe in a VW van, and My Name is Y, an anti-nuclear demonstrator’s family memoir. She was at that time also an editor and publisher with  D’Aurora Press. The Bookcase, a memoir exploring totalitarianism and the self, was begun in Amsterdam in the Eighties, and after that, Rani, describing Stock’s first five-month stay in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem. During seven years of travel in the Nineties, she composed several collections of poems, Memorial Service, Poems of Arad among them, and the essays which eventually becameOn Leaving Jerusalem: Prose of a Traveling Nature. A collection of poetry, In Place of Me, selected and with an Introduction by Jack Hirschman, was released by Mine Gallery Editions in the spring of 2015, followed by Talking With Marcelo: Doreen Stock in Conversation with Marcelo Holot (Mine Gallery Editions 2017), a book-length interview with the Argentine journalist. A work of historical fiction, Three Tales from the Archives of Love, was released by Norfolk Press in January 2018. Reviews of all of these books may be found at Kirkus and at The San Francisco Review of Books. More information is available at Doreenstock.com, on her Facebook author’s page, and in a selection of her poetry and translations—including an interview—archived at Marin Poet’s Live here. An article about her work and sample poems can be found here.  

Poet’s Note

“La Perla” is the name of a coastal town in El Salvador and was written in response to atrocities committed during a civil war there. [Editor’s Note: For information about the kinds of events that may have inspired this poem, go here and here.] As with most of the poems in The Politics of Splendor, it was a synchronistic composition involving, in this case, the Jewish holiday of Purim when the book of Esther is read, a dream, and the events in El Salvador. Many of my poems are time capsules involving dream time, real time, and political time.

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