In this collection of essays on poetry and politics, award-winning poet and professor Martín Espada examines the intersections of social advocacy and poetry. Espada uses his personal experience as a poet and former tenant lawyer in Boston’s Latino community to discuss the way poets have advocated for the voiceless, such as Edgar Lee Masters with his groundbreaking 1915 collection Spoon River Anthology, Walt Whitman with his ever-growing editions of Leaves of Grass, and Jack Agüeros with his Sonnets From the Puerto Rican. “Clearly, there is common ground between bards and barristers which goes beyond a fascination with language or the use of words as weapons. In my experience, that common ground is advocacy,” writes Espada. With topics including the poetry of rebellion in Puerto Rico, the art of “speaking of the unspoken places,” and the importance of rejecting the poetics of self-marginalization, this collection of essays offers inspiration and an exploration of what it means to embrace the role of the poet as activist.
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