—POETRY AND THE
BURDEN OF HISTORY
HUNCHED OVER THE PODIUM, Martín Espada is an imposing presence, a grizzly bear of a man with dark eyes that devour the page. His poems are, by turns, ferocious, tender, ardently political or touchingly biographical. But in between the poems, when he tells stories about his writing and his life, the audience is caught off guard by his playful and self-deprecating humor. There is a largeness of feeling in the man, and we are willingly snared in the net of his words.
His first two volumes of poetry—The Immigrant Iceboy's Bolero (with photographs by his father), and Trumpets from the Islands of Their Eviction— made him a rising star in contemporary Latino writing. But it was with his third collection, Rebellion Is the Circle of a Lover's Hands, that his work began to be widely recognized. The book was awarded the first PEN/Revson Foundation Fellowship and gained him a national audience. The judges' citation praised the intensity of his writing: “The greatness of Espada's art,