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Crucifixion in the Plaza De Armas

Authors: Martin Espada

Published by Smokestack Books

ISBN: 9780955402814

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Crucifixion in the Plaza de Armas
Viejo San Juan, Puerto Rico 1998

By the fountain of statues in the plaza,
next to a sign where fractured letters protest torture by police,
a Black man stands shirtless and pinned to a cross arms wide
like the wingspan of a slave executed for trying to fly,
as high school students bounce to the tambourine
in plena improvisation and tourists from the trolley
crowd into the shop across the street
to search for carvings dark and sleek
as his scarred body, to hunt down their own Black Christ.

Crucifixion in the Plaza de Armas
brings together Martín Espada’s Puerto Rico poems in one volume for the first time. Here the poet contemplates the meaning of Espada - ‘sword’ in Spanish - for conquerors and for rebels over the centuries; celebrates the African slaves who brought their music to the island; and searches the mountains for the grave of his great-grandfather.

Espada also writes of colonialism and the movement for independence, from the Ponce Massacre to the life of poet Clemente Soto Vélez, imprisoned for ‘seditious conspiracy.’ Throughout the collection, Espada insists on the details that give history a human face.

‘Neruda is dead, but his ghost lives through Martín Espada’ — San Francisco Chronicle

‘The best new poet I’ve read for years’ — Adrian Mitchell

‘Martín Espada is a poet of great communal power’ >b>— Robert Creeley

Martín Espada has published fourteen books as a poet, editor and translator. His last book of poems, The Republic of Poetry, was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize. A former tenant lawyer, Espada now teaches creative writing and the work of Pablo Neruda at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst.

Praise for The Republic of Poetry:

"Espada unites in these poems the fierce allegiances of Latin American poetry to freedom and glory with the democratic tradition of Whitman and the result is a poetry of fire and passionate intelligence."
— Samuel Hazo

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