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A Mayan Astronomer in Hell's Kitchen: Poems

4.3  ·  Rating Details ·  111 Ratings  ·  7 Reviews
In his sixth collection, American Book Award winner Martín Espada has created a poetic mural. There are conquerors, slaves, and rebels from Caribbean history; the "Mayan astronomer" calmly smoking a cigarette in the middle of a New York tenement fire; a nun staging a White House vigil to protest her torture; a man on death row mourning the loss of his books; and even Carme ...more
Paperback, 88 pages
Published June 17th 2001 by W. W. Norton & Company (first published 2000)
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David Schaafsma
Apr 25, 2015 David Schaafsma rated it it was amazing
I had not read a book of poetry by Espada for more than a decade, but my library had this one out for National Poetry Month and so I took it home and was reminded how much I like his work. The title of the book is an indication of his humor and imagination and and lyricism and politics, actually--he's decidedly a Latino writer writing from that perspective, he's angry about poverty and racism and violence. He is intensely lyrical and angry. Sometimes these modes alternate. Many people think that ...more
Jul 18, 2015 Andrea rated it it was amazing
Shelves: poetry, 2015
How have I missed this poet over all these years. This is one of his older collections, from 2000, but it just absolutely ripples with strength and humor and truth. Of Puerto Rican descent, most of these poems are set in Puerto Rico, and many look at tough subjects using gorgeous language, but also using humor and levity in the perfect way, sometimes starting the poem with a light tone, and then slamming you with a turn, or often after a devastating poem, Espada followed it up with a short poem ...more
Maughn Gregory
Poems as beautiful as their stories are horrifying.
Sean Endymion
Sep 29, 2011 Sean Endymion rated it it was amazing
Overall, I’m blown away. Espada’s stamina, for one, in consistently and continually creating solid images out of beautifully chosen words is just insane. The man is a wordsmith like no other. Take for instance, the first poem of this collection. With “My Name is Espada,” our poet takes virtually every digression possible within the context of the word “espada” (while yet never seeming to actually diverge from the point) to give the audience the fullest extent of historical and hereditary knowled ...more
Shawn (ThatOneEnglishGradStudent)
2.5 stars

I was impressed with Espada's use of strong verbs and his ability to write about personal family details without being sentimental and to write political poetry without coming across as preachy. However, for some reason the poems just left me feeling kind of cold and unfazed. I would probably give his work another chance, but I can't say he's one of my new favorites by any means.
Jul 27, 2008 Tina rated it really liked it
Shelves: poetry
Lush and political. Sounds like an odd combination, but believe me, he pulls it off. I'm jealous of his images.
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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
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