Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Announcement: Martín Espada Kicks Off The Writer’s Center 35th Anniversary Reading Series on Saturday, September 10th in Bethesda, Maryland.

On Saturday, September 10th TheWriter’s Center will kick off its 35th anniversary reading series with Martin Espada. Of course most—if not all—the readers of Letras Latinas Blog will be familiar with Martín Espada’s work and the fact that he was the judge who selected Paul Martínez Pompa as the winner of third Andrés Montoya Poetry Prize, which resulted in the publication of My Kill Adore Him (University of Notre Dame Press, 2009).

In January of 2010 in Merida, Mexico I attended a poetry workshop for the first time. I remember being the youngest person there—just twenty-one—still an undergraduate and still trying to find my poetic voice. I was surrounded by older and more established writers and feeling a little out of place. Among the poets conducting the various workshops was Martín Espada.

I remember after the first day of workshops coming out from the hotel where I was staying and strolling into a plaza adjacent to that hotel. Martín Espada was sitting by himself on a bench, observing—just observing the comings and goings of the people in that plaza. I sat across from him and struck up a conversation. We talked about washing dishes, his work as a bouncer, about Chicano and Latino poets and an old anthology of Latin American revolutionary poetry, published a few months after the 1973 coup that ended the Chilean presidency of Salvador Allende.

What had first attracted me to Martín’s work was his steadfast belief that writing poems is a revolutionary activity, a subversive act which in some small way contributes to making the unattainable attainable; that the writing of political poems in unjust societies is practical precisely because it imagines the impossible: a more egalitarian society.

Martín’s ability to marry social consciousness to the creative consciousness of language is masterful. It is pure music—and it is a music that resounds loudest when hearing Martin read his work. It will come without saying, that this is a highly recommended reading. If you are in the greater Washington, D.C. area, this is a reading not to be missed. And if your are not in the area, but know someone who is, spread the word.

--Lauro Vazquez

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