At Geronimo's Grave


114 pages
ISBN 1-55050-176-3
DDC C811'.54





Reviewed by Bert Almon

Bert Almon is a professor of English at the University of Alberta. He is
the author of Calling Texas, Earth Prime, and Mind the Gap.


Ruffo’s book repeatedly returns to the figure of Geronimo, an Apache
warrior whose life is important to this Native poet. It is not the
Geronimo of the war parties who interests him but the chief who had to
deal with defeat, captivity, and assimilation—a figure strangely
contemporary. Geronimo was invited to Theodore Roosevelt’s
presidential inauguration and sold his signature and portraits at the
1904 World’s Fair in St. Louis. He also raised melons in his old age,
and one of the fine historical photographs in the volume shows him and
his grandchildren exhibiting melons for the photographer.

Ruffo’s stylistic range gets a full display of its own in the love
poems of the third section, poems full of grief and nostalgia as well as
memories of passion (the poem called “Easy” is a powerful evocation
of the sensuous without a trace of prurience). His public poems on
protest themes seem flat by comparison. The book is admirable for its
diversity: Ruffo can write about family, love, ecological peril, and
history. Geronimo is an important presence in the book because he too
confronted such issues in his own time.


Ruffo, Armand Garnet., “At Geronimo's Grave,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed July 20, 2024,