Encantado: Desert Monologues by Pat Mora

Encantado: Desert Monologues
University of Arizona Press
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Inspired by Edgar Lee Masters’s Spoon River Anthology and Thornton Wilder’s Our Town, Pat Mora brings us the poetic monologues of Encantado, an imagined southwestern town.

Each poem forms a story that reveals the complex and emotional journeys we take through life. Mora meanders through the thoughts of Encantado’s residents--the mothers and sisters, brothers and fathers in whom we see slivers of ourselves and our loved ones--and paints a portrait of a community through its inhabitants’ own diverse voices. Even the river has a voice we understand.

Inspired by both the real and imagined stories around her, Mora transports us to the heart of what it means to join in a chorus of voices. A community. A town. Encantado.

“Encantado”: “adj., enchanted, haunted.” And “rambling (said of a house).” These translations all variously apply to Santa Fe writer Pat Mora’s haunting, rambling, poetic house of many rooms, Encantado. In the tradition of Thornton Wilder’s Our Town and Edgar Lee Masters’s Spoon River Anthology, Mora has created a fictional Southwestern town--Encantado--and peopled it with characters both living and dead. Each of the poems has a different speaker; each of the speakers has a unique story. Physically and metaphorically, the río, the river, runs through the town and unites the lives. Their lives are humble; their voices unassumingly lyrical. Cobbler Señor Ortega, for example: “I live in languages, Spanish, English—/and shoes, old zapatos, their leather tongues.” And the Japanese physician returned from World War II detention: “Such tears, nightmares, sighs, /and the wood butterflies. I/watch fragile wings swirl, rise. Fly.” Encantado is an affectionate, affecting creation."—Christine Wald-Hopkins

"Encantado is a holy book. Its honest people and voices, the affecting cadence and clarity of two languages so gently well-woven, [and] the encouraging lives of compassionate humans heal our souls. Pat Mora has given us a wondrous gift."—Naomi Shihab Nye, author of Voices in the Air: Poems for Listeners

"[D]eparted spirits return/to Encantado as stars,/meander/down dark streets and hallways,/peer into windows ...’ reads the title poem in Pat Mora’s collective portrait, recalling Juan Rulfo’s Comala in Pedro Páramo. What we have, then, are indelible portraits of Lupe, Barbara, Señor Ortega, and Stella--to name a few--populating the town of Encantado, fictitious or not...‘in another time, in another place’ but breathing fully in these indelible poems."—Francisco Aragón, author of Glow of Our Sweat