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Alabanza: New and Selected Poems 1982-2002 Paperback – November 17, 2004
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Top Customer Reviews
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.
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!
"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."
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.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I love Espada's work! This book allows me to revisit my favorites as well as experience some new poems.Published 7 months ago by Michael C. Rainnie
I had the pleasure of meeting Martin Espada years ago during college at one of his readings for "Imagine the Angels of Bread. Read morePublished 12 months ago by R. Watts
Martín Espada is such an amazing athor, this poetry collection is definitely a must have for anyone's personal library.Published 16 months ago by Lily Illan