A volume in the Poets on Poetry series, which collects critical works by contemporary poets, gathering together the articles, interviews, and book reviews by which they have articulated the poetics of a new generation.
This collection of essays on poetry and politics comes from the man the New York Times predicted would become "the Latino poet of his generation" and whom Sandra Cisneros called "the Pablo Neruda of North American authors."
Martín Espada defends what Walt Whitman called, "the rights of them the others are down upon." He invokes the spirit of poet-advocates such as Whitman and Edgar Lee Masters to explore his own history as a poet and tenant lawyer in Boston's Latino community. He celebrates the poets of Puerto Rico, imprisoned for espousing the cause of independence, and the poets of the Bronx, writing bilingual poems in the voices of the dead.
Espada writes of forgotten places and reminds us of the poet's responsibility to remember, as Pablo Neruda remembers the anonymous builders of Machu Picchu or Sterling Brown remembers the slave uprising of Nat Turner. He argues that poets should embrace the role of Shelley's "unacknowledged legislator" in their work as writers and in their lives as citizens. He challenges the conventional wisdom that poetry and politics are mutually exclusive, and rejects the poetics of self-marginalization, in keeping with Adrian Mitchell's dictum that, "most people ignore most poetry because most poetry ignores most people."
Prior praise for Martín Espada:
"Political poetry at its finest…with his soaring lyrics, Espada broadens our appreciation not only of poetry but of resistance itself."
"(Espada) writes beautiful poems about terrible realities."
—San Francisco Chronicle
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Read: On Author Workshops | Intuitive Intertextuality | 7/11/2010
Read: About the Author | On Wisconsin | 2/18/2010
Read: Espada Interviewed | Poetry Foundation | 3/5/2007