Poetry Like Bread: Poets of the Political Imagination from Curbstone Press

Overview


Poetry Like Bread contains poems by nearly forty poets published by the Curbstone Press during the last twenty years. These poets are probably unlike any you have studied. Their engagement with everyday political and economic realities is as direct as a newspaper, their language as familiar as conversation. Their motto, taken from Roque Dalton for the title of the collection, is that "poetry, like bread, is for everyone."

These poems were not written to be studied. They were ...

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Overview


Poetry Like Bread contains poems by nearly forty poets published by the Curbstone Press during the last twenty years. These poets are probably unlike any you have studied. Their engagement with everyday political and economic realities is as direct as a newspaper, their language as familiar as conversation. Their motto, taken from Roque Dalton for the title of the collection, is that "poetry, like bread, is for everyone."

These poems were not written to be studied. They were meant to be read. Or better yet, heard. Whole or in part. Alone or among friends and strangers. Reading and hearing them, you must respond and react. Some may inspire you, knock the wind out of you--make you indignant, sad, joyous, ashamed. Whether you drop this book, seek out others, join a social action group, write letters to your elected representatives, or write poems of your own, your reaction to the poems will be as political as the poems themselves.

Some of the subjects of these poems may be unfamiliar to you, or very familiar to you. Many relate stories from war-torn Central and South America, where U. S. policy has had a huge impact on people's lives. The rest are the voices of the voiceless here in the U.S: Latinos and African Americans, Vietnam veterans and Vietnamese, prison inmates, blue collar workers, migrant workers, women, the homeless. It's the poet's job to open up and validate these worlds to us. Our job, once roused, is to learn. To learn and to act.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

"Strength and integrity...unify these writers as they speak passionately onissues common to all countries."-Publishers Weekly

"The poems here are full of surprises, grand themes grounded in the painful and triumphant particulars of each poet's life."-The Nation

"These are poems not so much of witness and survival as of defiance and resistance."-The Progressive

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Espada, himself a teacher and poet, has gathered the works of 33 poets from the Americas and other continents, including Nicaraguan Ernesto Cardenal, Honduran Roberto Sosa, North American James Scully, Native American Jimmy Santiago Baca and El Salvadoran Roque Dalton, to show the breadth of the political verse published by Curbstone Press in the 19 years since its establishment. The editor employs a broad definition of ``political'' in mixing poems on war, poverty, racism, starvation and sex discrimination with love poems, portrayals of alcoholism and cries of loneliness. Styles range from the gravity of Cardenal, who calls Nicaragua ``a great tomb of martyrs,'' to the urgency of John Carey, who warns cautious poets that ``Someday / The men with / The guns and butter / Will see you from the street, / Tramp up the stairs / To your room, / Strangle you with the / Cord of your caution.'' Some of the poets forgo craft for the sake of rhetoric, rendering the quality of the collection's poems inconsistent, and the translations from Spanish tend toward clumsiness; Spanish speakers might go to the originals on facing pages for more evocative reading. Strength and integrity, however, unify these writers as they speak passionately on issues common to all countries. (Mar.)
Library Journal
Bilingual when necessary, this collection includes 33 contemporary poets, putting politically conscious North Americans alongside their Latin and Central American counterparts (with two exceptions: Haitian Paul Laraque and Scandinavian Marianne Larsen). Well-known writers, such as Claribel Alegria, Ernesto Cardenal, and Margaret Randall, are interspersed with those relatively obscure. Welcome newcomers include Alfonso Quijada Urias (ironically depicting North American mundanity in a Communist regime) and Vietnam vet Kevin Bowen. This compilation proves that U.S. poets might lack the urgency and need for metaphor of those in a repressive regime but are every bit as capable of making strong political statements. A few prominent North Americans (Adrienne Rich, June Jordan) are not included, but this is still an important, recommended volume. With an introduction by the editor.-- Rochelle Ratner, formerly Poetry Editor, ``Soho Weekly News,'' New York
From The Critics
Now in a newly expanded edition, Poetry Like Bread is a sampler of the best of the poetry published by the nonprofit arts organization, Curbstone Press, over the last twentyfive years. Under the ably editorship of Martin Espada, more than 100 poems are showcased in this memorable, wonderfully presented, bilingual (Spanish/English) anthology. It Was A Ragged Squadron (September, 1978): No one wanted to cross that burnt field./(Those silver ashes with a read spark or two/from the final embers.)/You went out first and your body looked dark/against the white./Hidden in the brush, we others waited/until you made it to the other side,/then followed you.//I remember it in slow motion:/the sloping terrain, slippery and hot,/your hand around your weapon,/the stench of fire./The sound the propellers made,/sporadic bursts of gunfire.//Your boots sank into the pliant earth/and you raised a whitish mist at every step./(Time must have slowed down for us.)//Dionisio, all the comrades watched you,/our hearts beating uselessly/beneath the full moon. Daisy Zamora (translated by Margaret Randall & Elinor Randall).
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781880684740
  • Publisher: Northwestern University Press
  • Publication date: 9/28/2000
  • Edition description: NEW & EXPANDED
  • Edition number: 25
  • Pages: 332
  • Product dimensions: 5.40 (w) x 8.50 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Meet the Author

Martín Espada (born 1957) is a Latino poet, and professor at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, where he teaches poetry. Puerto Rico has frequently been featured as a theme in his poems.

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Table of Contents

Prefatory Note11
Dedicatory Poem: Patria abnegada12
Dedicatory Poem: My Martyred Homeland13
Foreword16
Ars Poetica22
Ars Poetica23
Visitas nocturnas24
Nocturnal Visits25
Los rios26
The Rivers27
Carmen Bomba30
Carmen Bomba: Poet31
Desde el puente32
From the Bridge33
What's Happening40
I Applied for the Board43
Who Understands Me But Me44
Ah Rain!46
Steel Doors of Prison47
La sangre de otros48
The Blood of Others49
In Memoriam50
In Memoriam51
Conjuncion54
Conjunction55
Nicaragua58
Nicaragua59
Ya no60
No More61
Incoming62
Playing Basketball with the Viet Cong63
Gelatin Factory64
In the Village of Yen So66
Banking Lesson, 197067
A Julia de Burgos68
To Julia de Burgos69
Las voces de los muertos72
The Voices of the Dead73
Ecologia80
Ecology81
Las loras84
The Parrots85
Las campesinas del Cua86
The Peasant Women from Cua87
Hartford Daylight90
To a Cautious Poet91
Frente al balance, manana92
Before the Scales, Tomorrow93
Intelectuales apoliticos94
Apolitical Intellectuals95
Vamonos patria a caminar98
Let's Go, Country99
Amelia, Mrs. Brooks of My Old Childhood106
Para un mejor amor116
Toward a Better Love117
Como tu120
Like You121
Sobre el negocio biblico122
On Biblical Business123
La certeza124
The Certainty125
La tumba de Buenaventura Roig126
La tumba de Buenaventura Roig127
Federico's Ghost130
El fantasma de Federico131
Jorge the Church Janitor Finally Quits134
Por fin renuncia Jorge el conserje de la iglesia135
The Scientist138
Neighborhood Watch139
Sea of Tranquility140
Among The Yurok141
9:40pm142
3:45am143
Human Interlude144
In Memoriam, Ray Thompson (1943-1990)145
Undone Day147
Haiti149
This Neruda Earth151
De repente152
All of a Sudden153
Refranes156
Proverbs157
Blood Knot158
Mastectomy159
Le nageur noir traverse les profondeurs bleues160
a black swimmer crosses blue depths of underwater161
Le grand guignol du pays ou Le pays du grand guignol162
The Grand Guignol of Countries or Country of The Grand Guignol163
The Meadow164
Cash Register165
Ordinary Human Arms167
fillmo'e street woman168
the blood of Colorado miners171
you northamerican poets172
there will be a time173
maybe because I stand behind174
Histories: Part I Europe and America175
Histories: Part II
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