City of Coughing and Dead Radiators: Poems


"With this fine new collection," says Library Journal, Martín Espada "joins the top ranks of poets anywhere"; in the words of Earl Shorris, he is "well on his way to becoming the Latino poet of his generation."

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"With this fine new collection," says Library Journal, Martín Espada "joins the top ranks of poets anywhere"; in the words of Earl Shorris, he is "well on his way to becoming the Latino poet of his generation."

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Editorial Reviews

Ray Gonzalez - The Nation
“In City of Coughing and Dead Radiators, his fourth book, Martín Espada defines political poetry for the turn of the century. . . . [This] is a book to be opened by those who know the consequences of poets speaking out, but also a book for a larger audience convinced that poetry is a source of survival.”
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
In his fourth book, Espada ( Rebellion Is the Circle of a Lover's Hands ) writes powerfully of the disenfranchised urban Latino poor: ``I cannot evict them / from my insomniac nights.'' The poetry has a direct, proclamatory tone, at its best when summoning and sustaining intimacy. In ``White Birch,'' for example, a birth is described: ``The boy was snagged on that spiraling bone. / Medical fingers prodded your pink center / while you stared at a horizon of water / no one else could see, creatures leaping silver / with tails that slashed the air / like your agonized tongue.'' Brooklyn-born Espada draws on his tenants' rights work in Boston for strong images in several poems--``the girl surrounded by a pleading carousel / of children, in Spanish bewilderment, / sleepless and rat-vigilant, / who wins reluctant extermination / but loses the youngest, / lead paint retarded.'' Some poems cascade with strong visions and descend into squalor, horror, or the picaresque, yet forming wholes out of them can be problematic; they may grandstand at crucial points, or drift into pieties. On the other hand, ``The Toolmaker Unemployed,'' an austere lyric supported by assonance and incremental ponderings, is as spare in its form as we imagine an old man's diminishing sense of worth to be. (Aug.)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780393312171
  • Publisher: Norton, W. W. & Company, Inc.
  • Publication date: 9/28/1994
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 89
  • Product dimensions: 5.50 (w) x 8.30 (h) x 0.30 (d)

Meet the Author

Martín Espada's The Republic of Poetry was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize. The recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship, teaches at the University of Massachusetts–Amherst and lives in Amherst, Massachusetts.

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Table of Contents

The Hidalgo's Hat and a Hawk's Bell of Gold 17
The Admiral and the Snake 19
The Lover of a Subversive Is Also a Subversive 21
Cockroaches of Liberation 23
El Grito de Pepaberta 25
Coca-Cola and Coco Frio 26
Day of the Dead on Wortman Avenue 28
Borofels 30
Prayer for Brother Burglar 32
The Skull Beneath the Skin of the Mango 34
Fidel in Ohio 36
City of Coughing and Dead Radiators 39
Courthouse Graffiti for Two Voices 42
Tires Stacked in the Hallways of Civilization 43
Mi Vida: Wings of Fright 44
The Broken Window of Rosa Ramos 46
The Legal Aid Lawyer Has an Epiphany 48
Who Burns for the Perfection of Paper 49
The Toolmaker Unemployed 50
Transient Hotel Sky at the Hour of Sleep 52
The Music of Astronomy 55
Don't Worry, Son, You're in the Care of Mental Health Professionals 56
The Arm 57
Memorial Day Parade at the Viet Coffee House 58
Ashes and Donuts 59
DSS Dream 60
Blackballed by the Rainbow Girls 63
White Birch 66
The Carnival Leaves for the Next Town 68
The Rifle in My Hands 69
The Lesson of My Uncle's Nose 70
The Year I Was Diagnosed with a Sacrilegious Heart 72
The Other Alamo 75
Author's Note: When Songs Become Water 79
When Songs Become Water 80
Cuando los cantos se vuelven agua 81
Glossary of Spanish Terms 85
Biographical Note 89
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