Our First Book of 2016

Martin Espada’s VIVAS TO THOSE WHO HAVE FAILED, his first collection of poems in five years, is just out from W.W. Norton.  Featured are a cycle of sonnets about the Paterson Silk Strike and the immigrant laborers who envisioned an eight-hour workday, and a series of ten poems about the death of the poet’s father Frank Espada, community organizer, Espada Vivascivil rights activist, and documentary photographer, from a jailhouse in Mississippi to the streets of Brooklyn.  Other poems confront collective grief in the wake of the killings at the Sandy Hook Elementary School and police violence against people of color.  Yet the poet also revels in the absurd, recalling his dubious career as a Shakespearean “actor,” finding madness and tenderness in the crowd at Fenway Park.  In exquisitely wrought images, Espada’s poems show us the faces of Whitman’s “numberless unknown heroes.”

The Washington Post in a review of the best poetry books of the month, calls it “some of Martín Espada’s most powerful writing in years.”

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