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The Trouble Ball

4.42  ·  Rating details ·  88 ratings  ·  11 reviews
In this new collection of poems, Martín Espada crosses the borderlands of epiphany and blasphemy: from a pilgrimage to the tomb of Frederick Douglass to an encounter with the swimming pool at a center of torture and execution in Chile, from the adolescent discovery of poet Omar Khayyám to the death of an "illegal" Mexican immigrant.


from "The Trouble Ball"

      On my father
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Hardcover, 66 pages
Published April 4th 2011 by W. W. Norton Company
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Literary Review The
Feb 06, 2013 rated it it was amazing
By Michael Thurston

For The Literary Review
Volume 54 "The Rat's Nest"

Martin Espada is a big dude. Man’s got to be six five and I’m not even going to
guess at his weight. Let it suffice to say that when he performed in a local amateur
production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream a few years ago, he played the wall that
separates Pyramus and Thisbe. He is an imposing presence, not only physically but
also in the communities of Latino poetry, political poetry, and just plain American
poetry. And while he
...more
Therese Broderick
Oct 10, 2011 rated it really liked it
Unfolding events during the Fall of 2011 pose this question: what powerful, inspiring words should the Occupy Wall Street protesters be declaiming, reciting, chanting? I suggest: words from the poems of Martin Espada. Even after decades of struggle by advocates of the powerless, the plight of today's powerless Americans (and non-Americans) still resembles the oppressive, unjust conditions depicted in these historical poem-stories. But heroes are also depicted -- ordinary men & women, family & fr ...more
Jeremy
Dec 13, 2013 rated it really liked it
While the dust jacket's Pablo Neruda comparisons are inflated, Espada writes with force and clarity about some of the things that matter most: the fight against injustice, holding into ideals in the face of tyranny, making sense of time's passage. A poem honoring the life work of Howard Zinn is a mesmerizing high point.

My favorite poetry has a profound sense of place, and most of these poems do: whether about Espada's home (New York City) or foreign concerns (Latin America, Puerta Rico), they g
...more
Andrew Reynolds
Jan 10, 2013 rated it really liked it
Blasphemy
for Sam Hamill


Let the blasphemy be spoken: poetry can save us,
not the way a fisherman pulls the drowning swimmer
into his boat, not the way Jesus, between screams,
promised life everlasting to the thief crucified beside him
on the hill, but salvation nevertheless.

Somewhere a convict sobs into a book of poems
from the prison library, and I know why
his hands are careful not to break the brittle pages.
Karen Douglass
Jun 13, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Our poetry book club discussed this book recently and of the eight readers seven were impressed with at least some of the poems. Espada's style is narrative, rich, and political. The politics caused some debate because a few of the stronger poems were not personal, but events that the poet had researched. However, he has a masterful use of the language, and pays homage in style, content and depth of insight to Whitman.
Vincent Scarpa
Aug 06, 2013 rated it really liked it
Favorites included: "His Hands Have Learned What Cannot Be Taught"; "The Swimming Pool at Villa Grimaldi"; "Isable's Corrido"; "Blasphemy"; "Walking"; and "Like A Word That Somersaults Through the Air."
secondwomn
Sep 26, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2011, library, poetry
beautiful poems on a wide range of subjects, all effortlessly touching on the personal and the political. espada is a master of poetic language and this is a lovely collection.
Maughn Gregory
Dec 06, 2013 rated it it was amazing
These poems of revolutionary politics and poetic blasphemy shot me right through the heart.
Andy Oram
Jan 10, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: literature
Hard-hitting, unblinking--but with wonderful plays of words, these are prose poems about many parts of this very interesting author's life: his tough life in the poor neighborhoods of New York City, his travels to distraut countries, his poet friends. Mostly conversational, the vignettes bounce with phrases that manage to be simultaneously lyrical and gritty ("your vision floating like the black butterflies of cinders").
Roger
Dec 31, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: poetry, politics
Engaging mix of personal and political. The latter reminiscent of Galeano.
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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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