If you’d ask most people, they’d rather stay at home and watch a Seinfeld rerun than go to a poetry reading. Yet almost imperceptibly, poetry enriches our lives and generates cultural growth and change. Think about it. Add up all the myriad poetry-related activities: readings, workshops, symposia, retreats, undergraduate and MFA programs at universities, books, zines, websites, spoken word recordings, then throw in lyric writing for theater and the multi-billion dollar music industry. A nation’s general well being, its artistic richness and diversity and how it sees itself is refracted through the critical eyes of poets. As T.S. Eliot said, “Only those who will risk going too far can possibly find out how far one can go.” Raising hell, pushing boundaries, making the powerful uncomfortable and creating beauty are all part of the poet’s repertoire.
About the featured speaker:
Martin Espada is a leading poet. His collection Imagine the Angels of Bread won the American Book Award. A former tenant lawyer, he teaches in the Department of English at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst. He is the author of Zapata’s Disciple, A Mayan Astronomer in Hell’s Kitchen and Alabanza.