Halting Steps represents the most complete single-volume retrospective in English of Claribel Alegría’s seven-decade career. The volume collects all of Alegría’s poems from her fourteen previously published books and debuts several new poems under the title “Otherness.”
Alegría was born in Nicaragua during the United States occupation of that country. Alegría’s family opposed the occupation and moved to El Salvador, where she grew up. Her poetry is not only lyrical and introspective but also politically engaged. Her verse has always spoken forcefully, specifically, and fearlessly to matters of social justice in her region. She strikes a universal theme, however, in giving a voice to individuals of all classes in their struggle against oppression, but especially women who must contend with a system in which men hold the power and women are excluded. Alegría demonstrates her remarkable range with deeply personal poems, perhaps most notably in the poem cycle “Sorrow,” as she moves steadily through the waves of grief she experiences after her husband’s death.
In Halting Steps, both longtime admirers and those new to her work can appreciate the sustained creative power of Claribel Alegría’s poems.