Monday, September 03, 2007

Someone You Should Know: Martin Espada

A poet can be a teacher, a historian, a journalist,
an organizer, a preacher, a caretaker, or a bard.
And a poet can be a political activist,
one who participates in the great changes
that the world is always going through.
We can go back to a poet that used to
wander the streets of Brooklyn
in the mid-19th century: Walt Whitman.

- Gabrial Thompson, writing about Martin Espada

Here is someone I think you'd like to meet. His name is
Martín Espada

Espada's most recent book, The Republic of Poetry, is a collection of poems that followed an invitation from Chile for Espada to come celebrate Pablo Neruda's Centenary. (1) It was a finalist for the 2007 Pulitzer Prize.


In the republic of poetry,
poets rent a helicopter
to bombard the national palace
with poems on bookmarks,
and everyone in the courtyard
rushes to grab a poem
fluttering from the sky,
blinded by weeping.

In the republic of poetry,
the guard at the airport
will not allow you to leave the country
until you declaim a poem for her
and she says Ah! Beautiful.

by Pablo Neruda

It was passed from one bird to another,
the whole gift of the day.
The day went from flute to flute,
went dressed in vegetation,
in flights which opened a tunnel
through the wind would pass
to where birds were breaking open
the dense blue air -
and there, night came in.

When I returned from so many journeys,
I stayed suspended and green
between sun and geography -
I saw how wings worked,
how perfumes are transmitted
by feathery telegraph,
and from above I saw the path,
the springs and the roof tiles,
the fishermen at their trades,
the trousers of the foam;
I saw it all from my green sky.
I had no more alphabet
than the swallows in their courses,
the tiny, shining water
of the small bird on fire
which dances out of the pollen.

Off the Shelf

Il Postino

A romantic comedy. Mario is a bumbling mailman who's madly in love with the most beautiful woman in town ... and who's too shy to tell her how he feels. But when a world-famous poet -- Pablo Neruda -- moves into town, Mario is inspired. With Neruda's help, he finds the right words to win the woman's heart.

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