Giving Their Word: Conversations with Contemporary Poets

By Steven Ratiner | Go to book overview

9
—POETRY AND THE
BURDEN OF HISTORY
Martín
Espada

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,

-169-

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Giving Their Word: Conversations with Contemporary Poets
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page *
  • Contents *
  • Preface ix
  • Giving Their Word *
  • Introduction 1
  • Notes 9
  • 1 - —Opening the Moment 11
  • 2 - —A Solitary Walk 39
  • 3 - —Poetry and the Common Work 65
  • 4 - —The Toy of Language 75
  • 5 - —The Words Worth Saying 95
  • 6 - —The Work That Makes a Home 109
  • 7 - —New Life in the Barn 129
  • 8 - —The Poetry of Witness 147
  • 9 - —Poetry and the Burden of History 169
  • 10 - —The Communal Voice 183
  • 11 - —A Chorus of Voices 199
  • 12 - —Reclaiming the Word 221
  • 13 - —Without and Within 237
  • Selected Sources 267
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