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Alabanza: New and Selected Poems 1982-2002 Paperback


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company; Reprint edition (November 17, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0393326217
  • ISBN-13: 978-0393326215
  • Product Dimensions: 8.5 x 5.3 x 0.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #503,328 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

Although a U.S. citizen born in Brooklyn, Espada has a larger loyalty, out of which he has forged a passionate, compelling, eminently readable poetry that makes him arguably the most important "minority" U.S. poet since Langston Hughes. His greater allegiance could be called pan-Hispanic, and its roots are in the dilapidated tenements of mid-twentieth-century New York and such heartbreaking stories as the basis of "Tato Hates the New York Yankees," about a Puerto Rican baseball phenom spurned by the pros in 1947. From the beginning, Espada has been compassionate but scrupulous to avoid arousing pity, for pity might blur the perception of injustice crucial to the poetry of advocacy he determined to practice. As he progressed, he took on the struggles of Mexicans, Chileans, Peruvians, and other Latin Americans against postcolonial tyranny at home and prejudice in the U.S., to which multitudes of them fled. He makes his leftist orientation apparent, but in his poetry he is far less an ideologue than a lyrical champion of the oppressed and dispossessed. Ray Olson
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Review

A passionate, readable poetry that makes [Espada] arguably the most important 'minority' U.S. poet since Langston Hughes. -- Booklist

Espada's poems are not just clarion calls to the heart and conscience, but also wonderfully crafted gems. -- Julia Alvarez

Neruda is dead, but if Alabanza is any clue, his ghost lives through a poet named Martín Espada. -- San Francisco Chronicle

To read this work is to be struck breathless, and surely, to come away changed. -- Barbara Kingsolver

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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on April 25, 2003
Format: Hardcover
This volume of Espada's poetry offers some selections from previous works, as well as some absolutely stunning new poems. Espada's poems are no less than an attempt to bridge the chasm between identity and humanity, to find in the everyday struggles of working-class Latino/a people the common dreams of all of us for a sense of belonging and a longing for justice.
The title poem is a reflection on 9/11 and its consequences. Espada praises ("alabanza"="praise") the 43 restaurant workers at Windows on the World who perished in the tragedy. The respect he has for these human beings and for all of us in a post-9/11 world is both humbling and empowering. This is how we begin our healing. This is how we begin building a better world.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By John Michael Albert on August 16, 2006
Format: Paperback
I found this book in a used book store and flipped it open to a poem in praise of Neruda -- I had to have it. I particularly enjoy "new and selected" anthologies because I not only get familiar with the work of a writer, but I also get a larger context -- the poet's life's work -- to understand each poem in. These poems start out strong (1982) and get stronger. Then, there is an explosion of stunning work, starting with Imagine the Angels of Bread (1996) and continuing right through the final poem (2002), a celebration of the lives of "Hotel Employees and Restaurant Employees" who died in the twin towers. "World poetry" is generally very political, a voice that I think is essentially absent from or clumsily handled (shrill, angry, repellant, pathetic) in poetry from the United States. Espada is a US citizen who shows that it can be done with strength, beauty, and conviction. It doesn't hurt that he has the occasional touch of 'magic realism' on his side, as well.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Marie Delgado Travis on December 30, 2005
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I had the privilege and true delight of hearing Martin Espada perform at the Alley Theatre some years ago. I was mesmerized by his presentation and still cannot erase some of the images of his poems and the rich rhythms of his voice these few years later.

It was actually my first attendance at a poetry reading and I didn't realize what a profound effect it would have on my future. I have since become an award-winning writer, author of four poetry books in English and Spanish and when I think back, I know that evening was instrumental in my helping to define my calling.

I remember standing shyly on line to buy Mr. Espada's book and by the time I arrived, they were all sold out. I offered to buy Mr. Espada's copy, but of course, they had his notes, so he couldn't offer them to me. I have finally ordered my own copy of ALABANZA on Amazon.com and Mr. Espada's audio CD and look forward to receiving them! It is my special Christmas present to myself.

As a writer, I realize now what a hard sell poetry is, unfortunately, and urge those who love the form to support our talented writers. Martin Espada well deserves poetry lovers' consideration. They will NOT be disappointed!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Sophie on April 21, 2008
Format: Paperback
In his introduction to Martín Espada's earlier collection, "Rebellion is the Circle of a Lover's Hands/Rebelión es el giro de manos del amante," Amiri Baraka writes, "Martín got the stick!" Espada's poems are fiercely political, never ranting, and lyrical in their evocation of dignity in response to degradation and oppression.

"Alabanza" is the Spanish word for praise. Many of these poems celebrate the people and culture of his father's native Puerto Rico, and, like the murals of Mexican social realist artist Diego Rivera, make iconic figures of the working poor, immigrants, prison inmates and evicted tenants. His sparing and well-chosen use of Spanish contributes to the unique music of his poems (he helpfully includes a glossary in "Alabanza") and, in readings, he sings, he howls and growls them.

I love the new poems in the "Alabanza" section of the book, from the drumming rhythm of "En la calle San Sebastían" to the angry and tender lament of "The Monsters at the Edge of the World. "Now the Dead Will Dance the Mambo" wraps its arms around Tito Puente, the poet's father, James Connolly, an Irish rebel, and the Palm Sunday dead of of Ponce, Puerto Rico. The title poem "Alabanza: In Praise of Local 100" is a memorial to the restaurant workers who died at Windows on the World on September 11.

Martín Espada could be writing about himself in "Sing Zapatista," when he imagines Subcomandante Marcos saying:

"Marcos does not exist. I am a window. I am a mirror.
I am you. You are me."
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Brian Theobald on January 7, 2009
Format: Hardcover
The writing of Raymond Chandler and Dashiell Hammett was once characterized as "blue-collar prose with white-collar trim." The same might be said of Marin Espada's poetry.

Espada's poems are highly accessible, simple, and linear, remaining true to the voice of the Hispanic working class immigrant while still being highly evocative. Recommended.
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