Stalin in Aruba is a hybrid of poetry and historical fiction, combining careful research with vivid imagery. Poems bring to life a cast of characters gathered from Stalin’s inner circle, American suburbia, Nazi Germany, post-Communist Eastern Europe, and nineteenth-century Baltimore.
Stalin in Aruba examines power—political, social, and emotional—and its abuses. How did a popular poet and a talented tenor become one of the twentieth century’s monstrous butchers? What intersections are there between the intimate lives of history’s monsters and our own? The title poem explores the thin line between Stalin’s photographic manipulations and our own white lies of digital enhancement. Other poems in this collection are dramatic monologues that give voice to the ordinary and the larger-than-life: Lenin’s widow talks back, a parish priest looks back, and a scrappy nineteenth-century schoolmarm rubs shoulders with Hitler’s four suicidal girlfriends.
Inhabited by popes and priests, dictators and daughters, Politburo wives and Nazi mistresses, addicts and embalmers, Stalin in Aruba explores how we resist and how we succumb to the banality of evil.