Fragments of an afternoon
by Maria Victoria Carreno Montas
Trafford Publishing

"I am not a woman of silks and herbal teas; I am a woman who loves her moons and springs, Yes Sir that's me"

The poetic voice of Maria Victoria Carreno Montas is deeply rooted in the traditions of her Dominican Republic homeland. The Caribbean country, awash in natural beauty and rich in cultural heritage, is clearly an impetus behind much of the writing in Fragments of an afternoon. In this bountiful collection of 45 poems, the author broaches several topics including love, death, music, nature, politics, and religion. Approaches vary, as some works are short and simple like the one line testimonial "skies and sea murmurs…," while others run several pages and read like encapsulated stories. There is a palpable texture to this poet's phrasing. In "Caribbean Mulattoes," she writes of "maroon kisses," "seductive pearls," and "Wild nudes drunk with the sun." While the language is simple, its richness conjures exotic images.

Poignantly reflective, Montas also draws her inspiration from points of memory. Whether warm childhood remembrances, odes to former political leaders or activities, the intensity of relationships, or tributes to native flora and fauna, the mountains, or the sea, there seems a dreamlike quality to the recollections she brings to the page. The author also demonstrates an ability to draw readers into the heart of her emotional renderings. "Cradle of Kisses" is an example that echoes the despair of losing a child. It is a beautiful piece, of somber intent, that speaks volumes.

While this book was initially offered as a Spanish version, it seems fitting that Montas who is also a Spanish teacher, chose to release this bilingual English/Spanish edition. While individual page sidebars provide specific word translations, definitions, and footnotes for each language, these are also indexed at the back of the book. As poets often write from personal perspective and reminiscence, here Montas proves a welcome and gifted talent in her ability to share observations, memories, and the language of a fertile land in such an enjoyable and easily accessible format.

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