Alabanza: New and Selected Poems 1982-2003
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Alabanza: New and Selected Poems 1982-2003

4.42 of 5 stars 4.42  ·  rating details  ·  173 ratings  ·  19 reviews
Alabanza is a twenty-year collection charting the emergence of Martín Espada as the preeminent Latino lyric voice of his generation. "Alabanza" means "praise" in Spanish, and Espada praises the people Whitman called "them the others are down upon": the African slaves who brought their music to Puerto Rico; a prison inmate provoking brawls so he could write poetry in solita...more
Paperback, 256 pages
Published November 17th 2004 by W. W. Norton & Company (first published 2003)
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The title poem brings tears to my eyes. It's a most noble tribute to the victims of violence in Afghanistan and the World Trade Center.
Hank Horse
I've had the pleasure of hearing Martin Espada read several times, and he's a great poet. Seeing him read "The Prisoners of St Lawrence" with a youth dance troupe and acoustic bass accompaniment a few years ago in Amherst, Mass was one of the most transcendent performances I've ever seen, it left me in tears it was so beautiful. This is an excellent selection of his work, highly recommended.
A poem from the book, so you can decide for yourselves:

"This is the year that squatters evict landlords,
gazing like admirals from the rail
of the roofdeck
or levitating hands in praise
of steam in the shower;
this is the year
that shawled refugees deport judges
who stare at the floor
and their swollen feet
as files are stamped
with their destination;
this is the year that police revolvers,
stove-hot, blister the fingers
of raging cops,
and nightsticks splinter
in their palms;
this is the year
that darkskinned m...more
Aug 17, 2013 Ginny rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: poets, people who enjoy poetry, others with interest in Hispanic culture/oppression
Recommended to Ginny by: poet friend
Shelves: poetry
I never thought I would enjoy political poetry so much. While that aspect was certainly very pronounced, and at first (in Espada’s early works) a little off setting, the poems themselves were successful. By that I mean to say that the statement Espada wanted to make didn’t interrupt the flow of his poems or the direction they needed to go in.

Being both Hispanic and a recent resident of New York state, I found the poems especially dear to me. Each character in Espada’s poems has a name and a his...more
I liked most of the poems in this book, but none of them really struck me as amazing except this one. I'm still awed by how it manages to be scary and romantic at the same time.

"When the Leather is a Whip

At night
with my wife
sitting on the bed
I turn from her
to unbuckle
my belt
so she won't see
her father
his belt."

Read it again.

See what I mean?

Read for: Surviving the American Dream
A contemporary classic by one of America's most powerful contemporary poets--eloquent, rich, compassionate, with flashes of dark, subversive humor. Espada's experience as a tenant lawyer gives him a distinctive vantage on community, politics, and the working world. The title poem is the finest and most effective poem on 9/11 out there.
possibly even better than The Republic of Poetry, but only because it contains so many wonderful accounts as his time as both tenant laywer and poet.... by far one of my favorite poets to watch here at the G R Dodge Festival, maybe tying with N. S. Nye.
I really enjoyed this book of poetry, they either made me laugh or cry or shake my head in confusion.
Took the class at Chautauqua with Mr. Espada as teacher, it was a great time, he can't be described in a few lines. I'll add something later.
Barbara Lovejoy
I first learned about this author when he was being interviewed on TV a number of years ago about the great work he was doing in schools to inspire primarily minority students to write. It was enjoyable to read some of his poetry.
Oct 27, 2007 nicole rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: anybody!!!
Shelves: poetry
wow, this is an INCREDIBLE collection of poetry by martin espada. his voice is such a presence, it sprawls across the page and throughout the book. i found myself laughing and then nearing tears - sometimes within one poem. amazing work.
Emily Wallace
I had to read and analyze Espada's poems for my poetry and poetics class. This is a thought-provoking collection that brought both tears, laughter, and anger at the prejudices shown to Spanish-speaking people.
This was one of the 2004 RUSA Notable Books winners. For the complete list, go to
Mamie Morgan
"For the Jim Crow Mexican Restaurant in Cambridge, Massachusetts, Where My Cousin Esteban was Forbidden to Wait Tables Because He Wears Dreadlocks:
Some absolutely gorgeous juxtapositions and use of language. I love the poems about Espada's family.
A very fine collection by a Latino American with an affinity for political statement.
Tricia Wagner
Ya - I and many of my students love the power and perception in Espada's poetry
A collection from my favorite political poet, a former tenant lawyer.
R.G. Evans
Each poem a gem. Lovely, powerful book.



Para siempre.
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Sandra Cisneros says: “Martín Espada is the Pablo Neruda of North American authors.” Espada was born in Brooklyn, New York in 1957. He has published thirteen books in all as a poet, essayist, editor and translator. His eighth collection of poems, The Republic of Poetry, was published by Norton in October, 2006. Of this new collection, Samuel Hazo writes: "Espada unites in these poems the fierce al...more
More about Martin Espada...
Imagine the Angels of Bread: Poems The Republic of Poetry City of Coughing and Dead Radiators A Mayan Astronomer in Hell's Kitchen: Poems Poetry Like Bread: Poets of the Political Imagination from Curbstone Press

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