ANC039: Luchadora by Silvia Angulo
I am brown country thunder / brewing, heat wave of mi madre / prim and plotting for expired / Revolution.
Rafael Trujillo was halfway into his decades-long dictatorship of the Dominican Republic when he first crossed paths with the Mirabel sisters, four young women known collectively as Las Mariposas, or The Butterflies ─ an idyllic name belied by the extent of their clandestine political activism. The sisters began a lengthy cycle of incarceration and release for their open opposition to the regime and support for its underground resistance. Ultimately, the three eldest sisters lost their lives to the cause, strangled by members of the secret police in a rainy sugarcane grove. News of the assassination helped push public resentment over the edge; Trujillo was shot within a matter of months, putting an end to thirty-one years of brutal oppression and the death of at least fifty thousand Dominicans.
In Luchadora, Silvia Angulo carries this tradition of feminist agitation to the present day, immersing it in her cultural experience and balancing it with an exploration of celestial mythology. The face of tyranny may change, yet it is always with us; her work gives voice to one's progress in rising against dominant forces, however masked those gains may be by external factors out of reach but pushing back with all their might. These poems trace femininity's many facets: the turmoil of primordial birth, the restlessness of stifled ambitions, the potency of sisterhood, the sensuality of a confident siren. In surveying her role as a twenty-first century mujer, Angulo honors the legacy of her ancestors, plots paths to new achievements, and finds "a womb mothers my / riots, cantankerous swift / I breeze dope as drums."