Two Hours with Martin Espada
First program: Remembering Well & Raising Hell
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.
Second program: Zapata's Disciple
What is the relationship between poetry and politics? Martin Espada makes the connection. He says, Progressive politics must be imagined first, and poetry is a great way to do it. Oppressive social conditions, before they can be changed, must be named and condemned in words that persuade by stirring the emotions and awakening the senses. Poets from Whitman to Neruda to Ginsberg have articulated a vision and a language of political transformation.
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