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The poems contained in this group were written over a two-year period that began with a visit to Chinle and the Canyon de Chelly Navajo lands near the Four Corners in Arizona. Nowhere is the tragedy of Native Americans more vividly on display than in the story of the reduction of the Navajo from a proud, even warlike, and sophisticated agrarian society to the sad, dusty, poor community of today. The calamity that was visited on the Navajo under the force and direction of the United States government endures as a blight on our nation even as the Navajo today strive to make their society and culture things of lasting beauty and importance. These poems focus on the largely unknown but highly symbolic story (parallel in so many ways to the more modern cultural crimes associated with WW II in Asia and Europe) of the forced expulsion of the Navajo from their traditional lands and way of life. It is an old story in America, different from other stories mainly in the details.
PRAISE FOR PEACHES AND ROSES
This is a remarkable documenting of a deeply tragic event regarding Europeans settling America and in the process destroying others’ lives and cultures. Charles D. Tarlton has produced a multi-formed and multi-voiced account and commentary on the unbearable injustice wrought upon the Navajo people. This short book is rich in voices, mainly the author’s own poetry, which takes many forms, rich and evocative verse, prose, invocation, incantation, and, at times, likens to the chorus of a Greek tragedy. It includes also quotatios from a dozen or more other voices, of soldiers, Navajos, government documents, even Nietzsche. All these are brilliantly wrought together into a kind of terrible death song. ~ Kieran Egan, author of “Amplified Silence”; Professor Emeritus at Simon Fraser University and a member of the Royal Society of Canada.
Peaches and Roses gives us grim “warnings of fierce gods from underworlds unknown.” (p.40). Such warnings seem to me a very good idea! These poems are lyrical but also sport touches of dramatic verse, invoking, in the reader, a rich medley of mood and time.. It is also a history in verse and prose poetry. It never becomes laborious but moves always with ease and deftness like one of the lithe creatures of the desert~ Andrew T. L. Parkin, Professor Emeritus, University of British Columbia and University of Hong Kong.
The author is a retired politics professor from California and New York who grew up in the Southwest enamored of the sights and scents of the desert, who has always been sad that he missed the heyday of the frontier. Poetry has always been central in his life, even as he pursued a career and a living teaching political ideas. In recent years he has focused almost entirely on writing poems, however, giving him the opportunity to compile a second résumé. He lives on the shore, now, in Connecticut, with his wife, Ann Knickerbocker, an abstract painter, and Nikki, their black standard poodle.