Freshman Seminar: Writing Ecology

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Filed under: Uncategorized March 17, 2008 @ 6:00 pm

            The main theme in Martin Espada’s poems is struggle. He shows the emotional, physical, and mental struggles he went through all the way from a boy to an adult. Espada started out in a poor school in Brooklyn when foreigners weren’t accepted. His father couldn’t get a job and those in power looked down upon him and his family. He then goes on to fight through the struggle becoming a lawyer, able to help others not so lucky as him. It is through these experiences that Espada relays to us his struggle and the struggle of his people.

            People in power looked down on Espada and his family. Not only could his father not get a job because they “did not hire Blacks or Puerto Ricans” but the police “brandished night sticks and handcuffs to protect the beer (pg 26).” I find this completely disgusting. The beer factory won’t give him a job and the police are cruel enough to arrest him and wish him dead. The land lord too is an object of evil. He kills cats and tries to kidnap an owl. When Espada grows up and becomes a lawyer he fights for a woman who did not have a proper living space and was not paying rent. The land lord evicted her and although she had rights the judge, the one person who is supposed to stand for the law above all else, sent her out of his court evicted.

            Espada had a variety of jobs, his first job as a gas pumper. One thing I found to be very interesting was that Espada and his fellow coworkers at the gas station had certain stereotypes against other people, in this case “rednecks.” It just goes to show that even people who have struggled against stereotypes their whole lives will still have stereotypes of other people.  Another one of his jobs was with a lab that held monkeys prisoner resulting in many of their deaths. When Espada understands why the monkeys’ bite him and shriek it is because he can relate to it in a way. He too has been behind bars and seen those that have been harassed and looked at as less than human. One of his jobs is as a grave digger and he says, “I work for nothing and for everything (pg 54).” This made me take a step back and look at his life as he saw it where he has so very little that it is almost nothing but to him it was everything. With this perspective on life it just goes to show that you should treasure what you do have even when it is not much.

 All of these poems that he wrote can be related back to the first poem Imagine the Angels of Bread. Hopefully there will be a day where the law system is completely fair and no one goes hungry or cold or becomes ill. This will never happen, but Espada’s poems are humbling, and that is the important message. The world will never be perfect but we should do what we can for others and live selflessly.

1 Comment

  1. kchristianfsem:

    Well written. I agree with you on all points. After reading more of the poetry, I think that Espada’s main message is to bring justice for downtrodden people (like those mentioned in the poems), especially with his reverence for people like Clemente. I think he is trying to create a place like that in “Imagine the Angels” of Bread,” even though it will never be possible.

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