The eighth collection by "the Pablo Neruda of North American authors" (Sandra Cisneros) was a finalist for the 2007 Pulitzer Prize.
Espada's compact, forceful follow-up to his well-received new-and-selected, Alabanza (2004), describes, in its three parts, three versions of his "republic." The first is Chile, where the Massachusetts-based, Brooklyn-bred poet has recently traveled, and where poets past and present (Neruda among them) reacted to the atrocities of the Pinochet dictatorship, hoping their verse could "make the soldiers/ vanish from the garden." The second "republic" unites the poets, from various lands, whom Espada has admired the lately deceased Robert Creeley, the South African protest poet Dennis Brutus and all those who have used their verse to speak for social justice: "I want to write," Espada explains, "a poem useful as a coat to a coughing man." Finally, there is the American republic, heir to democratic ideals traduced or shattered (in Espada's view) by the current administration and its wars, though "Sometimes a song drifts up/ through.../ machine guns and sobbing." Espada (himself of Puerto Rican descent) remains one of the nation's best-known and most outspoken Latino poets. (Oct.) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.