The victims of the Pinochet regime in Chile are remembered in verse and photos from Jeanne-Marie Osterman.
The answer to the question posed by Jeanne-Marie Osterman’s new collection of documentary poetry, WHO KILLED MARTA UGARTE? (a school teacher), is the murderous regime of Augusto Pinochet, who with the assistance of the CIA overthrew the democratically elected government of Chile in a military coup fifty years ago (this book is being released on the anniversary of that tragic event). Osterman describes in chilling detail how Ugarte was one of more than 3000 Chileans murdered or “disappeared” by Pinochet’s henchmen, many of their bodies tossed into the ocean weighted down with railroad track, while tens of thousands of others were brutally tortured. “Who Am I”, she questions herself, “to be a voice for the disappeared, / fifty years later, / put into words wounds / of a country not my own, / language not my own,” but she answers a moment later with an acknowledgment of complicity, “wounds from guns of country, my own.” For it is only by revealing and confronting the enablers of such atrocities that we can hope to prevent them from happening again. The volume is enhanced by photographs by the author that further document and commemorate the victims.
Poetry. History. Latinx Studies.
“I get my news from poetry and I cannot live without what I find there. This startling, deeply disturbing poetic investigation by Jeanne-Marie Osterman of the murders and tortures of the Pinochet regime in Chile freezes my blood. How can I turn back to the page after reading about bodies hung to rail tracks and flung into the ocean – after noting the chilling horrors of how the regime sought to disappear people absolutely without any trace. But this book exists along with the memories of survivors and the tens of thousands who went into exile. And there are songs of Victor Jara and poems of Pablo Neruda despite Pinochet’s blood lust and his desire to wipe away all opposition. Chile has gone back to democratic practice. The hijacking of Allende and the bitter pain of decades of murder, loss, exile, is starting to heal. This book contributes to that healing.” —Indran Amirthanayagam, poet & diplomat
“Jeanne-Marie Osterman’s searing poems capture the horrors of the Pinochet regime’s crimes against humanity: the secret detention camps; the vicious torture; the sordid mechanisms of disappearance. Her verses remind us all that we must never forget. Hers is indeed ‘the poetry of witness.’” —Peter Kornbluh, author of The Pinochet File: A Declassified Dossier on Atrocity and Accountability
“Ever since Adorno asked his devastating and celebrated question about the possibility of lyric poetry in the wake of Auschwitz, we have asked and answered that question over and over again. The only true answer to give is in and through a poetry that looks at the violence in the human heart without flinching. Jeanne-Marie Osterman’s collection of poems does just this. It takes up the challenge and answers: the poetry is in the witness, in the catalogue of specific indignities, of small details, of lives remembered, and stories told. These are poems born out of research, out of a deep knowledge of Latin American verse, and out of the imagination and empathy of a capacious and caring heart.” —Jeremy Paden, author of Self-Portrait as an Iguana & prison recipes
Jeanne-Marie Osterman is the author of three collections of poetry: Shellback (Paloma Press, 2021), named by Kirkus Reviews one of the top 100 indie press books of 2021; All Animals Want the Same Things (Slipstream Press, 2021), winner of the Slipstream 34th Annual Poetry Chapbook Competition; and There's a Hum (Finishing Line Press, 2018). Her poems have appeared in Borderlands, 45th Parallel, The Madison Review, New Ohio Review, and other journals, and in 2018 she was a finalist for the Joy Harjo Poetry Prize. A native of the Pacific Northwest, Jeanne-Marie resides in New York City where she is poetry editor for Cagibi, an online journal of poetry and prose.