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El Coro written by Martin Espada

 

El Coro written by Martin Espada

Overview:

El Coro offers proof that Latino/a poetry today is more complex and diverse, more beautiful and powerful, than had been previously acknowledged. Here we find the open expression of anger and grief, self-mocking humor, the music of protest, the quiet assertion of dignity, and the raucous celebration of survival. There are poems about stoop labor and welfare offices and housing projects, but also poems about the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse and the Minotaur. Among the poets are former farm workers and gang members, a practicing physician, an ex-tenant lawyer, two professional chefs, and a Vietnam veteran. One poet was a political prisoner for six years; another staged a famous hunger strike; still another was indicted for her work with Central American refugees. In many ways this collection of poets comprises a chorus. Their song humanizes in the face of dehumanization.

Synopsis:

El Coro offers proof that Latino/a poetry today is more complex and diverse, more beautiful and powerful, than had been previously acknowledged. Here we find the open expression of anger and grief, self-mocking humor, the music of protest, the quiet assertion of dignity, and the raucous celebration of survival. There are poems about stoop labor and welfare offices and housing projects, but also poems about the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse and the Minotaur. Among the poets are former farm workers and gang members, a practicing physician, an ex-tenant lawyer, two professional chefs, and a Vietnam veteran. One poet was a political prisoner for six years; another staged a famous hunger strike; still another was indicted for her work with Central American refugees. In many ways this collection of poets comprises a chorus. Their song humanizes in the face of dehumanization.

Library Journal

Espada (English, Univ. of Massachusetts) has compiled a successful assortment of 43 Latino poets writing in English, unusual in that a high number live in New England. To eschew favoritism, he arranged an entire generation of contributors alphabetically, mixing well-established names like Gary Soto with several younger lesser-knowns. A mixture of styles is also included: sonnets, prose poems, and concrete poetry are all here. Although most of the selections were previously published locally, their treatment of the themes of the Latino experience, the indignity of racism, and the quest for the preservation of cultural identity make them deserving of a wider audience. Julio Marzan sums it up the best: "Next spring I will be/ Forty years a foreigner." Espada, himself a poet of some renown (Imagine the Angels of Bread, LJ 6/1/96) and a contributor to this volume, has provided a good, useful vehicle for disseminating that broader cultural awareness. Recommended.Lawrence Olszewski, OCLC Lib., Dublin, Ohio

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Title: El Coro

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