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Alabanza: New and Selected Poems 1982-2002
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Alabanza: New and Selected Poems 1982-2002

4.45  ·  Rating details ·  234 Ratings  ·  25 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, 245 pages
Published November 17th 2004 by W. W. Norton Company (first published 2003)
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Jul 20, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: poetry
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.
Oct 19, 2009 rated it it was amazing
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
Hank Horse
Jun 17, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: poetry
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.
Emily Wallace
Dec 17, 2009 rated it it was amazing
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.
Mar 14, 2009 rated it really liked it
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
Nov 01, 2015 rated it really liked it
"No one asks
where I am from,
I must be
from the country of janitors,
I have always mopped this floor.
Honduras, you are a squatter's camp
outside the city
of their understanding..."

This is the most unassuming and down to earth book of poetry I've ever read. In Albanza you will read about real people and real problems. "With a voice trained obedient in the darkness of church confessionals," Martín Espada unleashes a series of poems that are both sardonic and beautiful. These poems document the strugg
Aug 16, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Oh…these poems and this poet - sang powerfully and well. i had come across a poem a few years ago by this author and loved it. But I just began reading these poems of his, this year. What a collection. His use of metaphor and clarity in the service of justice is striking and strong. Every time. He writes and tells the stories of those whose stories would be untold in public places if not for him. These stories need to be told. And I am so very glad I read this.
May 04, 2008 rated it liked it
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
Jul 01, 2012 rated it it was amazing
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.
Barbara Lovejoy
Nov 12, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
Jun 07, 2012 rated it really liked it
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.
Oct 15, 2007 rated it it was amazing
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.
Sep 27, 2008 rated it it was amazing
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.
Mar 21, 2008 rated it it was amazing
A collection from my favorite political poet, a former tenant lawyer.
Mamie Morgan
Jan 08, 2008 rated it really liked it
"For the Jim Crow Mexican Restaurant in Cambridge, Massachusetts, Where My Cousin Esteban was Forbidden to Wait Tables Because He Wears Dreadlocks:
Feb 24, 2011 rated it it was amazing
This was one of the 2004 RUSA Notable Books winners. For the complete list, go to
Chuck Buckner
Jan 31, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Jul 06, 2013 rated it really liked it
A very fine collection by a Latino American with an affinity for political statement.
R.G. Evans
Dec 03, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Each poem a gem. Lovely, powerful book.
Jun 30, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites



Para siempre.
Zaynab Shahar
Nov 08, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: poetry
I began reading this when the presidental debates started three months ago, and it would only be aprepo to finish it on the eve of election day.

As always, a collection of Espada poetry never ceases to disappoint. Chalked with politically charged, gritty poems, powerful lamentations on death, family, community, and resistance, Espada proves himself to be a poet of our time. He is a necessary voice that understands the many terrains of struggle that exist inside and outside social movements, as w
Ryan Acosta-Fox
Dec 27, 2016 rated it it was amazing
So, so good.
Mar 29, 2011 rated it liked it
Shelves: poetry
Some absolutely gorgeous juxtapositions and use of language. I love the poems about Espada's family.
Garrett Henson
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Feb 05, 2013
Amber Atiya
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Dec 23, 2008
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Oct 21, 2009
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Aug 21, 2009
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Jul 30, 2007
Rebecca Balcarcel
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Apr 04, 2013
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Aug 11, 2007
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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 Martín Espada