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Carmen de Monteflores


Born near San Juan, Puerto Rico in 1933, Carmen de Monteflores came to the United States at age sixteen to study art at Wellesley College, where she received a B.A. in 1953. She studied sculpture in Paris and painting in New York City, and continued her work as an artist while living at a cattle ranch in Montana and raising five children. After the family moved to California in the late sixties, Carmen stopped painting, began writing, entered graduate school, and came out as a lesbian. In 1978 she completed her Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology and is currently a practicing psychotherapist.


Since her first novel Singing Softly/Cantando Bajito (Aunt Lute, 1989), Carmen has published a book of poems, written and produced two plays, released a second novel, Possessions (Dog Ear Publishing, 2009), and is currently working on a third novel. Carmen has also published articles and essays dealing with a range of topics from psychotherapy to gender/sexuality studies. She lives in Berkeley, California with her partner, their child, a dog, a cat, two birds, and a recently planted apple tree.


To learn more about Carmen, visit the website for her novel Possessions.


Singing Softly/Cantando Bajito

By Carmen de Monteflores

Singing Softly/Cantando Bajito centers around the life of Pilar as told by her granddaughter Meli. The young Pilar's liaison with the son of a monied and proud family cuts her off from her own family, leaves her socially adrift, alone, and, finally, affects her relationship with her oldest friend.

It is in the act of narration, moving in soft rhythms and slowly revealed stories, that Meli reclaims her relationship with her grandmother and mother. Reaching out with her imagination, she binds together the three generations of women burdened by secrets and frees herself to come back to the Puerto Rico she has fled.


This is a novel redolent with the smells of tropical flowers, the taste of mangoes, coconuts and rum, the touch of earth and sea, the sounds of birds, the voices of [Puerto Rican] women…Marta, who gave birth to Pilar, who gave birth to Luisa, who gave birth to Meli, the narrator/listener. Tying the generations together, lifting the narrative to the plane of magic realism, and connecting it for a moment to Isabel Allende's The House of the Spirits is Seña Alba…midwife, healer, conscience, guardian and seer—a witch and folk hero…A novel worth reading.

—New Directions for Women


A moving and powerful novel that explores how the forces of colonialism, misogyny and racism emerge in the lives of a family affected by this history. The language of the narrative is rich and evocative and the characters are both real and surreal in the intensity of imagination. An important book.

—Susan Griffin

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