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
to be a unicorn
by sticking a plunger on your head
— from The Republic of Poetry, October 2006, W.W. Norton & Company