Monday, April 30, 2007

Poet Martin Espada: Representing East New York

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On the last day of National Poetry month, I thought I’d feature a bit of poetry by Martín Espada, a famous writer that I don’t know much about but plan to investigate further. This Brooklyn-born poet is the winner of an American Book Award and teaches creative writing and Latino Poetry at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst.

Espada grew up in a public housing development in East New York, Brooklyn. In an April 4 interview with poet E. Ethelbert Miller, Espada said that his days in the East New York projects significantly shaped his imagination.

He recalled what his childhood friend, Mari McQueen, now a Consumer Reports editor, once said: “Everyone who comes out of this place has a hard edge… We learned early in life that disrespect has serious consequences, up to and including death.”

Click here to read Espada’s provocative poem, “Jorge the Church Janitor Finally Quits.”

I really love this short yet potent poem by Espada:

Advice to Young Poets

Never pretend
to be a unicorn
by sticking a plunger on your head

— from The Republic of Poetry, October 2006, W.W. Norton & Company

2 comments:

Anne said...

The unicorn poem is so funny! :)

Alicia Benjamin said...

It's funny and it's good advice!