December 7, 2012

Martin Espada Wins Binghamton University Poetry Book Award for THE TROUBLE BALL

I was happy to have judged this year's BINGHAMTON UNIVERSITY MILT KESSLER POETRY BOOK AWARD competition.

There are 7 Kessler Award Finalists for 2012 (in alphabetical order):

The winning selection is Martin Espada's The Trouble Ball (W.W. Norton)

In The Trouble Ball,Martin Espada once again uses his clear, powerful poems to give voice to the voiceless, to those who live outside the margins and are so often unrecognized. He cries out against injustice in all its forms in poems that move from a pilgrimage to the tomb of Frederick Douglass, to an encounter with the swimming pool at a center of torture and execution in Chile and the death of an "illegal" Mexican immigrant.

On my father's island, there were hurricanes and tuberculosis, dissidents in jail
and baseball. The loudspeakers boomed: Satchel Paige pitching for the Brujos
of Guayama. From the Negro Leagues he brought the gifts of Baltasar the King;
from a bench on the plaza he told the secrets of a thousand pitches: The Trouble Ball,
The Triple Curve, The Bat Dodger, The Midnight Creeper, The Slow Gin Fizz,
The Thoughtful Stuff. Pancho CoĆ­mbre hit rainmakers for the Leones of Ponce;
Satchel sat the outfielders in the grass to play poker, windmilled three pitches
to the plate, and Pancho spun around three times. He couldn't hit The Trouble Ball.

from "The Trouble Ball"

MARTIN ESPADA             Photo: Bryce Richter
A poet, essayist, translator, editor, and attorney, Martin Espada has dedicated much of his career to the pursuit of social justice, including fighting for Latino rights and reclaiming the historical record. Espada's critically acclaimed collections of poetry celebrate—and lament—the immigrant and working class experience. He is the author of nine collections of poetry. His collection, The Republic of Poetry, was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize.

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