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Book Review: Love and Resistance by Theresa Wolfwood

05/04/2015 21:45 BST | Updated 04/06/2015 10:59 BST

The poems by Theresa Wolfwood in Love and Resistance (ISBN 9780993031502) are an historic contribution to our art of poetry, which is denied a place in the mainstream discourse on human conflicts, social justice, poverty and the bombing of civilians globally in the name of national security. I first read her poem, For Shaima, few years ago; it was written for an Iraqi girl whom Wolfwood met in 2001 in Baghdad. Her verses have since remained in my memory for their humanism, fragile emotions and the blunt admission of the illegal Iraq war that was executed under global daylight; she writes... did my letter arrive / before the missiles? / did any plane carry a harmless cargo... only if / hope the letter comes / before the bombs...

Wolfwood's words create for the reader what I imagine to be the inner state from which she would have written those poems: a suspension of the outside world; a penetrating insight into the loving as well as destructive human nature; the untold reality of people's lives in India, El Salvador, Palestine, Mexico, Nicaragua, Uganda, Lebanon, Chile and the First Nations people of Canada. Many of her poems are character sketches of people living on the front lines of a reality, which is not only different from what consumerism and globalisation have created for us in the West, but one that refuses to yield its cultural identity; one that is determined to preserve traditions; and one that is fighting to protect the local ecology as our beloved commodity producers, and colonisers continue to destroy their environment for increased financial profits.

In City Night, the gravity of her words pulls our hands so we walk with her in deep sleep and dream about the native Canadian women committing suicide on a highway... when I sleep my dreams have voices / Star and banjo sing her / song about the lost women on / the north's highway of tears...

In The Arpilleristas, she writes about Chilean women whose husbands and sons were abducted by the Pinochet regime, as they decided to stitch artworks to send their stories to the world... They open their veins to find thread to sew reality...

On the other hand, her poems for Palestine draw from first hand experience of being tear-gassed in the territory whilst carrying out peace work... spring is a foreign country in Palestine where / grieving women go mad for the longing / of blossoms / their throats stopped with stones...

As one continues to read her work, it is both heart-warming and astonishing to find that Wolfwood does not merely understand other cultures, other people, she has the ability to perceive and feel their hearts like they do. It is this humanism and passion that speaks out of her poems, as she writes in the poem Sandals about a girl bombed in a car in Lebanon... summer vibrates from the pavement / Beirut shimmers in the fierce sun... later after the explosion / investigators find in the car rubble ... on the feet clean white sandals / buckles still gleaming in the light...

The messages in Wolfwood's poems surprise us and question us on different dimensions, whilst her command of words on the paper is bold and engaging. Her poems at times are so powerful that if they were printed in the next morning's newspapers in some parts of the world, civil disobedience movements will rally to press for justice. At last, the analysis of her work is incomplete without concluding that through the poems in this book, Theresa Wolfwood stands out as a Poet Laureate of Global Justice.