E.A. Mares latest book features poems about Spanish Civil War

E.A. ‘Tony’ Mares latest book filled with poems remembering the Spanish Civil War

“Reflections Through the Convex Mirror of Time” by E.A. Mares

Enrique Lamadrid says his good friend E.A. “Tony” Mares had a lifelong obsession with the Spanish Civil War.

Mares’ obsession came to a literary climax posthumously, in the recently published bilingual book “Reflections through the Convex Mirror of Time/Reflexiones tras el Espejo Convexo del Tiempo.” It is a collection of Mares’ poems in remembrance of that war, some published for the first time.

Mares continued to revise the poems in the years before his death in 2015 at the age of 76, said Lamadrid, who wrote the book’s prologue. Mares was professor emeritus of English at the University of New Mexico.

“It was probably Tony’s masterwork,” he said. It combined Mares’ overlapping interests in politics, history, and poetry.

Lamadrid believes Mares had such a big heart that he was open to accepting all other ethnicities; he had Irish forebears on his mother’s side.

“It infuriated him that some (Hispanic) writers were anti-Americano. He was always open to friggin’ everybody,” he said. “He was a very compassionate human being.”

Mares wrote the first essay on coyote consciousness, Lamadrid said. Coyote refers to a person of mixed Hispanic and Anglo descent.

And Mares, a left-winger, was accepting of people whose political views he vigorously disagreed with or opposed.

E.A. Mares died in 2015. His last book, “Reflections through the Convex Mirror of Time/Reflexiones tras el Espejo Convexo del Tiempo” is released. (Courtesy of Jack Newsome)

Mares’ political openness comes into sharp focus in the bold, visceral language of many of the poems in this volume. To experience their emotional force, they should be read aloud.

One poem, “Couplets for the Spanish Civil War,” imagines a uniting of adversaries:

You say kill the liberals/I say let them squabble forever

You say kill the fascists/I say let these sad humans live

You say kills the communists/I say let them plan and plan

You say kill the anarchists/I love the anarchists

You say kill the republicans/I say let them talk and talk

You say kill the socialists/I say let them pursue their differences

I say let us all go together/to enter the loveliest of dreams…

Mares was born in Albuquerque in 1938. The Spanish Civil War would rage into 1939, concluding with a Nationalist (fascist) victory.

Lamadrid thinks his longtime friend had first heard of the war from the teacher-priests at San Felipe de Neri Church in Old Town. In exile here from Spain, they ordered him to his knees to give thanks to God for the great victory over the “Reds.”

Mares later studied at UNM under two exiled left-wing Spanish writers, novelist Ramón Sender and poet Angel González.

Mares’ doctoral dissertation in history was on the subject of the international brigades in the Spanish Civil War. The brigades were battalions of volunteers from different countries who fought on the side of the Republicans.

The poems in the second of the book’s four sections are devoted to Federico García Lorca, perhaps the most famous Spanish poet to fight in the civil war. The fascists executed Lorca by firing squad.

Here are the opening lines of the Mares poem “In the Curved Light” that zeros in on one member of that squad:

Quiet man, a good shot. You said

The firing squad would drive you crazy.

Yet, you shot Lorca. It was your job.

It was your duty as a good Catholic,

Juan Jiménez Cascales,

As a good, obedient soldier. At least

You didn’t like your job. Good shot,

I hope you aimed well at Lorca,

mercifully ending his suffering.

In the preface, written in 2013, Mares addressed the reason for the book: “For me, the Spanish Civil War of the last century, with its dramatic and intense qualities, is a convex mirror where we can see ourselves as beings who fight a civil war within our very selves.”

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