In this video from the USA
Martín Espada – poet, essayist, editor and translator, recited his stirring poem – “Alabanza: In Praise of Local 100” on May 1, 2006 at the Amherst Common. The rally held there was part of the National Boycott for Immigrant Rights.
From British daily The Morning Star:
Planting the seeds of a brighter future
(Monday 04 February 2008)
IN FOCUS: US poetry
ANDY CROFT discovers that, despite everything, a new wave of meaningful and progressive poetry is starting to flourish in the US.
If you think that the spectacle of the current US primaries are depressing, just imagine what it must feel like if you are on the US left.
I recently asked US poets Martin Espada and Jon Andersen what they thought of the current race for the White House.
“It’s a pathetic scene, really,” says Andersen. “Bracketing aside his poetic rhetoric of change, Barack Obama‘s actual proposals and policies are simply more of the same – a capitulation to imperial policy abroad and corporate class war at home, maybe with a softer touch. The lesser evils may be lesser, but that’s about all they are.”
Espada agrees. “The Democrats and the Republicans are simply renegotiating their power-sharing arrangement. The war is extremely unpopular here, yet neither party will nominate an anti-war candidate for president.
“Now that Dennis Kucinich has dropped out of the race, a progressive perspective is barely represented at all. But God is still in the race. All the candidates are good Christians, some to a nauseating degree.”
Andersen and Espada are both well-known poets and activists on the US left. Ten years ago, Espada openly refused an invitation to take part in a Nike TV advertising campaign called the Nike Poetry Slam because of the company’s employment record in south-east Asia.
In March 2005, he discovered that Coca-Cola was funding his reading at the University of Kansas and chose to protest against the appalling labour record of Coke in Colombia by publicly donating his fee to the National Food Workers Union in that country. A former tenant lawyer in Boston’s Latino community, Espada now teaches at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst.
Andersen has worked as a farmhand, a warehouse worker, a gardener and a high school teacher. He and his wife Denise run Students for International Socialism in Connecticut.
Andersen and Espada both have new collections out on Smokestack Books. Crucifixion in the Plaza de Armas brings together for the first time all Espada’s writings about the history and people of Puerto Rico – his father was a radical activist in the Puerto Rican diaspora in New York during the 1960s.
“As painful as it is just to listen to him,” says Andersen, “I actually don’t mind so much that he’s inarticulate and maybe a little dim-witted. The real problem is that he is a state terrorist – one of the most dangerous men in the world.”
“We should not be shocked that an oilman has plunged us into an endless oil war,” says Espada. “Bush represents major US corporate interests, openly and blatantly. His administration is a perfect brew of greed, corruption, brutality, ineptitude, fear-mongering, hubris and stupidity.” …
As writers, both men look back to Pablo Neruda, Nazim Hikmet, William Blake and Walt Whitman. “All political poets in the US,” argues Espada, “can trace their lineage, one way or the other, to Whitman.
“I refer to the Whitman who told us that the duty of the poet was ‘to cheer up slaves and horrify despots,’ who spoke for the ‘rights of them the others are down upon.’ The Whitman who proclaimed: ‘Through me many long-dumb voices.’
Japanese haiku poet Basho: here.