Of Mothers & Madonnas by Luciana Erregue-Sacchi is a small collection, a bilingual chapbook, part of The Polyglot Chapbook Series. It opens with an Invitation to the Reader by author Erregue-Sacchi, who with her family, left their Argentine home for Canada under dangerous political circumstances.
“Mi museo maravilloso, like many young people from that time in my country, disappeared. As I began assembling the poems in this chapbook, a common theme emerged: that of the disappearances during the dictatorship. I was not aware to what extent my memory of those times was linked to my visual experiences, that Rolodex of images, stored and saved as I was growing up, navigating the terror of the adults surrounding me. … [This book is an invitation to] the viewer-reader, to join in an ongoing conversation on memory, words, and images.”
This book of poems and essays, along with pictures of collages and photos, is striking. It incorporates the senses completely. It also pulled at my memory of growing through stages of life and thoughts, personal and political, individual and family. The added beauty of seeing the author’s own words in her first tongue, Spanish, was a gift. Even though I am not bilingual, I appreciate the passion of the words and the love there must be to share in one’s original language.
Reading Of Mothers & Madonna evoked many images. The images are of people leaving behind all that is known to them and rebuilding in another country. It is of a young wife in a new land, learning other languages and cultures while keeping her own deep-rooted, fresh, and alive, within her. There is a past and a love of family and their unbreakable bonds that survive harshness, transcend with love, and thrive on the shores of other lands. The references to mothers, particularly to their hands creating projects that care for family, represented a patchwork quilt of sharing and protectiveness. And, too, there is a fierceness. This is the nature of mothers who take all their beloveds under their golden wings and offer their skills of hands and heart, stitching, cooking, and all levels of caring.
In The Embroiderer from Harrods, Argentina (My grandmother, Juana Laboureau) the delicate tangling of long threads and crazy thoughts spoke of folklore and modern warnings! The ruins of an old world combine with the rebuilding of a new one. Culture, language, memories, and love are kept intact under the horror of loss, forced travel, and cautious resettlement.
The poetry in its different forms, presented in one way at the beginning, and becoming more essay-like as the book progressed, held me to the pages. I was absorbed in the stories as I read. In T Zone, the dryness in this land and the rose-scented fragrance brought thoughts of gardens in the winter. This is so relatable to me, for a rose scent can carry my thoughts to beauty, regardless of the weather’s circumstances. There was much thoughtful reflection by this reader on ‘our ghost trees’ in Ulmus:
Enough memories – pain makes demands,
remaining stubbornly in the present
pretending it’s not here.
Let’s acknowledge our ghost trees and move on
The ‘rivers of memories’ in Nomen Nescius:
I cannot look up, because the sky was also an accomplice
The mud clings to my skin, pulls me
back like a neglected task,
this time in search of my memories
of rivers past.
In Corset, there is a lovely notion that we carry our life within the corset, close to our heart. How to Make Tortellini in Vancouver reflects the memory in one’s hands, and how that is travelled and transported through the generations:
Now my hands remember kneading the dough
on my Vancouver Ikea table
new to Canada,
new to marriage,
new to Italian,
new to English …
My ears remember the confusion, and how
out of that rolling broth of languages and customs,
my family was born, my revolution, bella ciao!
The multi-toned and themed stories centre around women: generational, ancient, and modern. The ties with memory, language, and wisdom abound and are intricately laced throughout the stories. Women are the keepers of tales, the givers of life, and the guardians of the soul. I will treasure this work, and although I am not a poet, the poetic and storied images linger in my heart. I was touched by reading these words and will return to this beautiful chapbook, where I will once again be faced with memories and heart-filled exploration. Of Mothers & Madonnas by Luciana Erregue-Sacchi is a celebration!
About the Author
Luciana Erregue-Sacchi is an Argentinian-Canadian art historian, writer, translator, mentor, and independent publisher. In 2022, her imprint Laberinto Press won the BPAA Emerging Publisher of the Year Award. Luciana’s work has been published in Canada, the U.S., and the U.K. She was longlisted for the Susan Crean Award for Nonfiction in 2022. Luciana is a Banff Centre Literary Arts Alumnus. Luciana writes mostly in Spanish and English at the intersection of art and life.
To purchase a copy Of Mothers & Madonnas, please visit The Polyglot website here.
Carrie Stanton has a BA in Political Science from the University of Calgary. She is the author of The Jewel and Beast Bot, and picture books, Emmie and the Fierce Dragon and The Gardener. Carrie loves to write stories that grow wings and transport readers everywhere. She reads and enjoys stories from every genre.