The Sunday Poem: Sharon Barba . . . Two Poems - "Gloria Fuertes" and "Mesa"


Your name means strong:
mujer fuerte
poesias fuerte
Strong as a woman living alone
writing poems in a big voice

A poet with a bricklayer's hands
and the face of her country
A woman who's never got anything
but a big hope
which she gives like bread to the poor
because she knows about being despised

A citizen who's not afraid to speak up to tyrants
a soul who's not afraid to talk back to God
A poet who likes shaking things up
with only a pencil and a sharp tongue

An old-maid librarian, a full-blooded one
who goes on telling the truth
because she knows about lies
Solo una mujer fuerte
decir verdades
A woman who talks to herself in a quiet room
and ends up talking to everybody

Sharon Barba 6/30/92


On the mesa I can walk so far I can't get back
The sun rides on my head and I dream I'm a lizard

Earth is rock and lizard, sky and sun
and I don't exist yet
Centuries don't exist, or anything but this land

From the mesa, I can walk into the sky
and never come back.

Sharon Barba (1943-1993) was born in Ohio and a student of Willa Cather's work while teaching at UNM. Sharon was a prominent member of the Best Friends women's poetry collective in Albuquerque and co-editor, with Laura Chester, of the inestimably important anthology of 20th Century American Women Poets, Rising Tides (Pocket Books, July 1973) . . . . such a loss to all of us . . . she died at age 49 . . . (photo Isabel Mardiat)

"Sharon was an angel, a magnificent person, and a wonderful poet." Nancy Gage

"She was the first real poet I met; she taught intro to poetry writing when I attended UNM in the early 1980's. Such a fine poet." Albino Carillo

Poetry submissions are welcome. Email or  Do see and comment on Poet and Artist Friends Photo Album I've stitched together.Thanks, Larry Goodell.

Views: 297

Comment by Margaret Randall on February 23, 2014 at 7:49am

I wish I had known Sharon Barba. I hope you solve the mystery of her life and/or death. These poems, even with their clumsy gringa lines in incorrect Spanish, are powerful and lasting... the sort of poems that stay with you, that you want to read again and again. Thank you, Larry, for consistently bringing us these unexpected treats!

Comment by larry goodell on February 23, 2014 at 9:30am

Thanks Margaret. These poems are from photocopies I have, "Poesias" by Rose Marcel de Hermanas (Sharon Rose Barba), Summer 1992. I'm sure Sharon would have edited up the Spanish if there was a publishing possibility when she was alive . . . see her poems in "Rising Tides" pp 352-357, the collection of poems by 70 American women poets (astounding) . . . 

Comment by Izquierdo on February 23, 2014 at 10:19pm

Interesante, sin duda.

Comment by Dee Cohen on February 24, 2014 at 5:22am

These poems 'go on telling the truth.' Thank you for sharing them and bringing her words back to life. Dee


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