Thursday, February 11, 2010

Poem-of-the-Week: Martín Espada

The Republic of Poetry

................For Chile

In the republic of poetry,

a train full of poets

rolls south in the rain

as plum trees rock

and horses kick the air,

and village bands

parade down the aisle

with trumpets, with bowler hats,

followed by the president

of the republic,

shaking every hand.

In the republic of poetry,

monks print verses about the night

on boxes of monastery chocolate,

kitchens in restaurants

use odes for recipes

from eel to artichoke,

and poets eat for free.

In the republic of poetry,

poets read to the baboons

at the zoo, and all the primates,

poets and baboons alike, scream for joy.

In the republic of poetry,

poets rent a helicopter

to bombard the national palace

with poems on bookmarks,

and everyone in the courtyard

rushes to grab a poem

fluttering from the sky,

blinded by weeping.

In the republic of poetry,

the guard at the airport

will not allow you to leave the country

until you declaim a poem for her

and she says Ah! Beautiful.

- Martín Espada

From The Republic of Poetry (W.W Norton 2006)

Martín Espada, called “the Latino poet of his generation” and “the Pablo Neruda of North American authors,” has published sixteen books in all as a poet, editor, essayist and translator, including two collections of poems last year: Crucifixion in the Plaza de Armas (Smokestack, 2008), released in England, and La Tumba de Buenaventura Roig (Terranova, 2008), a bilingual edition published in Puerto Rico. The Republic of Poetry, a collection of poems published by Norton in 2006, received the Paterson Award for Sustained Literary Achievement and was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize. Another collection, Imagine the Angels of Bread (Norton, 1996), won an American Book Award and was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award. A former tenant lawyer, Espada is now a professor in the Department of English at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst, where he teaches creative writing and the work of Pablo Neruda.


Espada will be featured at Split This Rock Poetry Festival: Poems of Provocation & Witness, March 10-13, 2010, in Washington, DC. The festival will present readings, workshops, panel discussions, youth programming, film, activism—four days of creative transformation as we imagine a way forward, hone our community and activist skills, and celebrate the many ways that poetry can act as an agent for social change. For more information:

Please feel free to forward Split This Rock Poem-of-the-Week widely. We just ask you to include all of the information in this email, including this request. Thanks!

Split This Rock

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