Activist and Pulitzer Prize Finalist Martín Espada to Read at Simmons College

September 10, 2013

Martin Espada Brooklyn Bridge

On the eve of the Mass Book Awards, poet and activist Martín Espada will read from his book, The Trouble Ball on October 16th at 6:00pm in the Trustman Gallery. The event is free and open to the public.

The Trouble Ball is described as a collection that "crosses the borderlands of epiphany and blasphemy." Included in the work are poems that pay homage to the tomb of Frederick Douglass, explore the color barrier in baseball, and question what it means for a person to be "illegal."

Espada teaches poetry at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, and previously worked as a tenant lawyer. Speaking to the Poetry Foundation, Espada said, "Working in the ‘legal trenches' had a definite effect on my poetry. Both as a lawyer and poet, I was an advocate, speaking on behalf of those without an opportunity to be heard. I wrote poems about Chelsea and the law…but my advocacy as a poet went well beyond the law or that particular community. I saw no contradiction being both a lawyer and a poet, since both, for me, involved advocacy."

The Trouble Ball: An Evening With Martín Espada is co-sponsored by the Zora Neale Hurston Literary Center, which provides an inclusive forum for contemporary poets, playwrights, and writers who represent diverse cultural perspectives.

"Mr. Espada's commitment to poetry and social justice comes from the context of Hispanic culture, and I thought it would be a perfect match for our diversity initiative. A Pulitzer finalist and winner of the Mass Book Award, he can bring a lasting impact to the Simmons community," said Professor of English and Director of the Zora Neale Hurston Center, Afaa Michael Weaver.

Reading with Espada is Lauren Schmidt, whose latest collection Two Black Eyes and a Patch of Hair Missing was published by Main Street Rag.

"My poems often start with observation—literally writing down what I see and hear—but that's not always enough. I find that writing poetry allows me to wonder and ask questions," said Schmidt in an interview with The Splinter Generation. "I have become much less afraid to invent things for the sake of poetry, but it always starts with some truth."