Floaters: Poems

Floaters: Poems

by Martín Espada
Floaters: Poems

Floaters: Poems

by Martín Espada


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Winner of the 2021 National Book Award for Poetry

From the winner of the Ruth Lilly Poetry Prize come masterfully crafted narratives of protest, grief and love.

Martín Espada is a poet who "stirs in us an undeniable social consciousness," says Richard Blanco. Floaters offers exuberant odes and defiant elegies, songs of protest and songs of love from one of the essential voices in American poetry.

Floaters takes its title from a term used by certain Border Patrol agents to describe migrants who drown trying to cross over. The title poem responds to the viral photograph of Óscar and Valeria, a Salvadoran father and daughter who drowned in the Río Grande, and allegations posted in the "I’m 10-15" Border Patrol Facebook group that the photo was faked. Espada bears eloquent witness to confrontations with anti-immigrant bigotry as a tenant lawyer years ago, and now sings the praises of Central American adolescents kicking soccer balls over a barbed wire fence in an internment camp founded on that same bigotry. He also knows that times of hate call for poems of love—even in the voice of a cantankerous Galápagos tortoise.

The collection ranges from historical epic to achingly personal lyrics about growing up, the baseball that drops from the sky and smacks Espada in the eye as he contemplates a girl’s gently racist question.

Whether celebrating the visionaries—the fallen dreamers, rebels and poets—or condemning the outrageous governmental neglect of his father’s Puerto Rico in the wake of Hurricane María, Espada invokes ferocious, incandescent spirits.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781324021810
Publisher: Norton, W. W. & Company, Inc.
Publication date: 05/17/2022
Pages: 96
Sales rank: 527,494
Product dimensions: 6.20(w) x 8.40(h) x 0.40(d)

About the Author

Martín Espada has published more than twenty books as a poet, editor, essayist and translator, including Vivas to Those Who Have Failed and Pulitzer finalist The Republic of Poetry. His many honors include the Ruth Lilly Prize, the Shelley Memorial Award, and a Guggenheim Fellowship. Born in Brooklyn, he now lives in western Massachusetts.

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments xv

I Jumping Off the Mystic Tobin Bridge

Jumping Off the Mystic Tobin Bridge 3

Floaters 6

Ode to the Soccer Ball Sailing Over a Barbed-Wire Fence 9

Not for Him the Fiery Lake of the False Prophet 11

Boxer Wears America 1st Shorts in Bout With Mexican, Finishes Second 13

Mazen Sleeps With His Foot on the Floor 15

I Now Pronounce You Dead 17

II Asking Questions of the Moon

The Story of How We Came to America 21

Why I Wait for the Soggy Tarantula of Spinach 22

The Stoplight at the Corner Where Somebody Had to Die 24

Death Rides the Elevator in Brooklyn 25

The Cannon on the Hood of My Father's Car 26

Asking Questions of the Moon 27

Standing on the Bridge at Dolceacqua 28

III Love Song of the Kraken

Aubade With Concussion 33

I Would Steal a Car for You 35

That We Will Sing 37

Love Song of the Kraken 38

Love Song of the Galápagos Tortoise 39

Love is a Luminous Insect at the Window 41

Insulting the Prince 42

The Assassination of the Landlord's Purple Vintage 1976 Monte Carlo 43

IV Morir Soñando

Remake of Me the Sickle for Thy Grain 47

Be There When They Swarm Me 49

The Bard Shakes the Snow From the Trees 51

Flan 52

Morir Soñando 54

The Five Horses of Doctor Ramón Emeterio Betances 57

Letter to My Father 59

Note on the Cover Photograph 63

Notes on the Poems 65

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